Variations on Anna’s Premonition


anna karenina        

Sometimes she did not know what she feared, what she desired..

                                                                               Leo Tolstoy

She  sits in her bedchamber

wearing a white gown with pearls.

Her hands are cold pinning up

the last strand of hair. Candlelight

flickers in the glass; and she glides

over the lake she knows from a scene

in their love affair. Its water trails the wind

like a blue eye to that steep corner

of hillside woods where a  train whistles

through old pines. The sound underscored

by the tune of a child’s toy, barely heard

but coming from the womb of the forest.


Steam curls loosely along Winter’s neck

and she feels part of herself tumbling

out of  place, a black tress falling

over a neckline of fur. Her shape

is flung suddenly under wheels, relinquished

to ash and evergreen while a young horseman

stares. His face luminous in shock.

The wet chill of dawn.


Note — the beautiful picture is a scene from the movie “Anna Karenina” starring Keira  Knightley;  and the poem , itself, takes artistic liberty contemplating the premonition Anna had in the novel of her own passing. 




  1. Wendy,

    The picture and the poem are a matched pair!
    They enhance each other. You have written
    an instantly classic poem based on a classic
    novel. I feel the last line as a wail of grief as well
    as both a continuum and an end. It has a feral
    sound. You weave so much more than words
    into your poems. Brava!



  2. The personification of the lake as a blue eye is a deft touch, as is the womb of the forest. They are both foreboding and riveting – highly appropriate for the subject matter of the poem.


  3. Dear Sarah and Michael

    Thank you both so much for your wonderful comments on this poem. Your insight and perspective, here, are deeply appreciated!

    My best to you both,
    Take care


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