The broken slab wood steps, now one by one, now in pairs,
Are not the dragonflies of death with their blue-black eyes.
These are the tiny ones, the stems, the phosphorescent,
Rising and falling like drowned playthings.
They come and they disappear. They come back and they disappear.
Horizon-hump of pine bristles on end toward the south,
Breath-stealer, cloudless drop cloth
the great meadow beneath like a mirror face down in the earth,
Accepting nothing, giving it back.
We’ll go, as Mandelstam tells us, into a growing numbness of time,
Insoluble, as long as landscape, as indistinct.
*Osip Emilyevich Mandelstam (1891 - 1938) was a Russian poet and essayist who lived in Russia during and after its revolution and the rise of the Soviet Union. He was one of the foremost members of the Acmeist school of poets.