Reading Dostoyevsky
Christine Perrin

Impossible not to behave like pigs, you wrote from prison,
the truth from the blood ringing in our ears
like fluorescent lights against a silence as deep
as the velvet-booted soldiers walking the halls
of your confinement before the firing squad,
before your open grave. You wore the death shroud
your whole life, your sentence commuted a little while,
but saw the seed had to die for fruit, and so sheltered God
in suffering, in holy fools—Myshkin and Alyosha;
still you understood our need to gamble, our need
for unhappiness, to remain human beings somehow,
you gave us such men between peeling covers
on paper eaten by bugs, transposed in a tongue too soft,
to live with in the smut, to love.



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