“Mooring the Boat to the Dock” by Sarah Black
Anna Larina was the only audience to the final testament
of her husband Nikolai Bukharin.
Each morning after his death—
Stalin let her live for the national asset of her beauty—
she rose to recite her husband’s testimony.
Through one decade in the Gulag and one in exile,
through the birth of another man’s children,
she held Nikolai’s heart in her mouth,
incantation against the inevitable.
I thought of Anna when I read of the women who assembled
in Manhattan September 2001 to sit shiva in shifts
among trailers of refrigerated remains,
seven months of unbroken vigil.
Sitting so the dead would not be alone,
singing so the living would not be silent.
On any given morning
women’s prayers briefly dam the waters of history.
Tongues in their hands, we promise the dead
we are still here, we are still here.
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Sarah Black Artist Statement:
Sarah Black is a graduate of the Alabama School of Fine Arts and Grinnell College. She currently works as a title analyst and a bar manager and intends to pursue a masters of public administration in the fall.