samizdat and a minor planet / by mrm

Sickness has made me a bit tardy. Anna Akhmatova was March 9th's woman of the day. Wrote as a woman and a witness to Stalinism. Literature in translation can be so frustrating, and I don't pretend to know who's rendered her best into English, but I found this:


                                                  No, not under a foreign sky,
                                                  no not cradled by foreign wings –
                                                  Then, I was with my people, I,
                                                  with my people, there, sorrowing.

In the dreadful years of the Yezhov terror I spent seventeen months in prison queues in Leningrad. One day someone 'identified' me. Then a woman standing behind me, blue with cold, who of course had never heard my name, woke from the trance characteristic of us all and asked in my ear (there, everyone spoke in whispers):
- Ah, can you describe this?
And I said:
I can.
Then something like a tormented smile passed over what had once been her face.