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Michael Peter Smith

In Russian Eastertime
The congregation singing
Walks around the church outside three times
To signify the three days Christ was in the tomb
And when the priest and people
Knock at the door the third time
The sexton lets them back inside
To see how beautifully the risen spirit fills the room

In Russian Eastertime
When icons are uncovered
And the ground's asleep to Father Winter's lullaby
And early spring still tests the air
I stand like priest or stranger
Here at your door once more
I who was once Rasputin of your heart
The rock is rolled away
The rain has washed my hair

In foreign railway stations
I see Demetra's double
She knows the destinations of all my trains
And every little whistlestop along the way
And pictures of Demetra
Like icons lit by candles
Continue burning in my mind
A walk around the church of time
Each day is Easter Day

The corner of the eye sees more than does the center
English is for saying how things are
And Russian is for saying how things might have been
The ice breaks on the Neva
The minarets are melting
A spy outside the Kremlin hesitates
Imagining he tastes betrayal in the wind

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