From Susan Paddon's first collection of poetry, Two Tragedies in 429 Breaths (Brick Books).
Because it was a summer of brothers. Because Taganrog was a stinkpot in July. Because they were five for the holidays with their parents gone on a pilgrimage (Moscow, holy relics, Polytechnical exhibition, rich cousins in Shuia). But really because Maria would remember the names of backstreet brothels, the then foreign stench of lust and sweat on her brothers’ coats, the stories she could never get clean. And because later, much later, she would hate it, and want it and, even later, dream it again, and all over again.
This is the fourth of five poems in a series dedicated to Maria Chekhov. Read the fifth poem, The Night Before She Died.