David Wansbrough's Pages

David Wansbrough's verses

In the crush of the metro
A young man reads a musical 
manuscript
As you or I would read a book.
His eyes are focused, intense.
But as he turns a page
He smiles and his eyes are distant.
The human spirit flies.

Through the damasked curtains of my dream I enter, 
Into a lofty airy chamber, 
I feel real as my shoes on mosaics clatter, 
And as I pass, high candles splutter, 
Then I kneel on the alcove sofa to open the casement window,
Hoping the vertical pool between worlds is shallow, 
Hoping that I may touch even the shadow,
Of the glowing distant Marina. 


I am the God of many nations.
They whore and war
and know me not.
I have burned hot and cold and hot
and now am become indifferent.
When the phlegm breaks
I will cough
and spit out worlds.
Four Songs on Russia

Russia is not the modern pretty woman reading dead Alexander Men's living words and unexpectedly finding herself praying, and wanting baptism. Russia is not the Central Asians squatting, smoking smelly cigarettes, dirty from long hours of hard working. No. Nor is it the grey faced men directing MGU and teaching the children of parents who sacrifice much so their kids can have gentler lives than them. Russia is all these miracles, But the real Russia is the smart IT graduate, buying a journal, and reading THIS poem while waiting under Pushkin for his young woman, then taking her to the Alexander Goldenweisser apartment museum.

Russia is not the aggressive Mercedes jostling across lanes in the ring road, no. Нет. Nor is it the barely moving masses pushing at the bottom of the Prospect Mira Metro escalator at rush hour. No. Nor is it joint venture gas export successes. No. Russia is the unexpected gesture of a tired office girl with immaculate cosmetics, commuting, rising to give up her seat in the late night crowded carriage, to a smelly old veteran, then standing for 5 stations.

It is said that the holy corpses of saints exude a sacred oil that smells of summer flowers and woodland paths, and has strange healing powers. They say that saints exude love because they leave our judgement up to the Lord. Some drunkards on the metro laugh with love and alcohol, and are harshly judged by other men. But the sots have already judged themselves for falling short of plans made by God for them. Theirs is a knowledge of the fall. This insight of the smiling fools, is the glory of Russia's blessing to us all.

Russia is not the shimmering of light thru birches filtering down to animal paths in forests. Nor is it the ringing of bells around sun- refracting domes of churches. No. Nor is it the scarved faced women praying thru candle smoke to the staring mystery of holy icons. Nor the sacred singing. No. Not the exhausted soldiers returning, frightened they'll reveal emotions to mothers and lovers. Nor is it the unemployed factory engineers puzzled by lines of parked smart cars of young people suddenly living in their areas. Russia is more. Much more. Russia is the intangible eternal continuum. The mundane material and the sublime spiritual transcendence of the ordinary.

The rattling rhythmic boredom of the journey on uneven tracks made it impossible to read my book. Then the train clattered to a stop beside a country platform, among the usual scattered rotting fretworked shacks.. An unexpectedly beautiful young woman boarded and came to sit opposite between her mother and her gran. So lovely I almost dared not look. A delicate curved eyelid with a mysterious deep nook between it and the fine bone orbit. And her grandmother though so small was big boned and strong and looked as if she had buried sons. But so wrinkled, and the woman's mum too looked unillumined by thought, and thoroughly toughened by work. But a millennium of hopes shines in the daughter's modest refinement.

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