For the cry from the well

For the cry from the well of “mama!”
for the crucifix torn from the wall,
for the lie of your ‘telegrams’
when there’s an order for an arrest —
I will dream of you, Russia.
In the accursedness of your victories,
in the anguish of your impotence,
in the nausea of your hangover —
why will fear break through?
All has been mourned, all have been sung to rest —
who will you flinch from all of a sudden?
Though you’ll deny it, take refuge in illusion,
put all the blame on those who have been killed —
I will still come and stand before you
and look into your eyes.

— Irina Ratushinskaya

Irina Ratushinskaya was sentenced to seven years in a Soviet labor camp and 5 years of internal exile for “agitation carried on for the purpose of subverting or weakening the Soviet regime.”

[Research note: Irina Ratushinskaya arrives in the U.S. (March 24, 1987, New York Times); Interview with Irinia Ratushinskaya (March 27, 1987, Christian Science Monitor); Irina Ratushinskaya’s return to Russia (June 5, 1999, Independent)]