She portrayed Garbo as Anna
with darkened hair and her hood
framed by fur, A silver arch.
lit by the face
of a penitent. St. Adulteress. Russian icon
sacred as those
in old monasteries or The Winter Palace.
Marie could paint beyond the photo,
extract what made all of us
breathless — and when she put this latest work
comments kept filing the blank page. Boxes of praise
and international names — but I didn’t notice
until she wrote me saying
Don’t be alarmed by the Russians
They’re not pro-Putin just friends They love the way
I honor Hollywood’s past and their own
And btw, they’re artists as well. A few from St. Petersburg.
Perplexed, I didn’t comprehend
until I realized — everything now
is political. Suspect from troika bells to ballet shoes.
Even the late poet
might be seen as a spy, coding verse
and sipping oolong
in the shadows of the tapestried Tea Room
and the face of a blond feminist
caught in the tarnished gleam
of a samovar.
The reference to “Anna” in the opening lines of this poem refer to the character and adultress, Anna Karenina, from Tolstoy’s famous 19th C. novel of the same name. Greta Garbo portrayed the heroine in an early film from the 1930’s; and the artist, Marie, ( mentioned in the poem) painted Garbo in character.