I had just started to read “War and Peace.”
Borrowed from the public library,
its weight impressing my imagination,
parchments papers crinkling under my fingers.
When the storm came with wind and cold rain,
ice formed on the wires and hung from our gutters.
My mother warmed our beds with a cast iron skillet,
heated in the basement stove—the electricity in the kitchen,
And throughout the house was gone.
I bundled in blankets and sat in the basement,
oddly warmer than the rest of the house.
My grandmother gave us an oil-lamp so I could read at night.
Natasha swirled in her Russian house,
Blood dripped on the battlefield,
And I was in awe as ice formed daggers,
sharpening as the storm cut me from Illinois life,
binding me to Tolstoy’s turbulence.