The Russian Connection

russian connection2

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

on line

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.

          Love M.


Perplexed, I didn’t comprehend

until I realized — everything now

is political. Suspect from troika bells to ballet shoes.

Even the late poet


Yevgeny Yevtushenko

might be seen as a spy, coding verse

and sipping oolong

in the shadows of the tapestried Tea Room


His face

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.




  1. I suspected the reference was to Anna Karenina, but I wasn’t aware that Garbo played the role or of the painting of her in character. You are very correct; nearly everything gets politicized these days.


  2. Wendy,

    I love the Russian poets and artists. But, I get it…how awful
    that politics dirties everything it touches.

    “… from troika bells to ballet shoes.”

    Once again, you give true voice with your work.

    If that Tea Room could talk, imagine all the tales
    it could tell!

    Your close is perfect… Yevtushenko knew how
    to stir the embers to flame when it came to politics
    and to poetry!

    You always give us top shelf! Thank you!



  3. Hi Wendy.

    It’s a shame that politics spoil, prevent and sometimes ruin relationships
    between human beings.
    And that everything from “troika bells to ballet shoes” is suspect.

    Much enjoyed reading.
    Merry Christmas.



  4. Dear Sarah, Michael and Kerri

    Thank you all so much for reading and commenting on this poem. I think or agree, too, that politics has overshadowed everything and makes it hard to mention this or that without arousing certain irate or biased passions. I really appreciate your input on this!

    My Best to Everyone,
    take care,


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