The champagne we chilled right in the courtyard,
buried the bottles in the snow in clusters of four
according to their size and color: full amber, half green, quarter clear.
The Parisian winter had many uses but none more practical than this;
I just remembered that would have been your last winter.
It is good that it was a French winter, and not Russian,
otherwise you would not have liked snow so much.
You said you had never seen it coming down so hard,
except in 1928 after your first time in prison, your first week in solitary,
after they let you out, the ground looked pure, white, and massive.
And the vodka, picked out and bought by Jules —
the two of you had a taste for Russian liquor.
He said it was the same brand you drank at 20 as an expatriate in
Moscow, said you wouldn’t touch anything else.
You weren’t particular though, who could’ve been, after 17 years
in Turkish prisons, as long as the liquor was cold and kept you warm.
It was my task to bring the bottles in. Running in and out,
all I heard was who had died and when and how.
(My parents were at that age when friends begin to die.)
But you were talking to Louise, and from you I heard that one must
live life fearing death but not believing it, to hang roses upside-down
around a tall lamp to dry, and they’d be beautiful hat way.
They had put you in the room next to mine,
where Nicole had lived and died the year before
(the death order was important; it was odd that the women went first),
and I heard your old-man cough all night.
Your heart must have been skeined with dark, wrong veins,
your lungs sequined with cancer.
The red wine had survived the war just as you had,
trapped in a cellar, unable to be requisitioned
and handed over for wartime consumption.
It had aged well.
One could not have said the same for you,
sitting in the corner of the room like old piping,
twenty francs in your pocket, on your fifth cigarette already,
and drinking steadily near the kitchen all night
as if you had no concern for your heart, as if you had no use for it
because you were in exile and your fourth wife refused to join you,
because your poems were read in my parent’s salon that night,
but not in your Turkey, in your own Turkish.
Later, when you were out walking,
I watched your pale frame trudging to mail a letter,
perhaps to comrade Neruda,
perhaps to send out for the camellia seeds you couldn’t find in the
greeneries, and I remember thinking you were not broken,
just missing a vital part.