crimean folk tale
a russian count has a pet deer.
the deer is his greatest delight. one
morning the count goes hunting.
hillside woods sway
in the serf-haunted breeze. the deer
breaks loose, follows him. the count
sees it, doesn't recognize his
greatest delight, lets an arrow fly.
mother of god, he groans, punish me.
the saints watch from a gilded sky.
the count is transformed into
a cypress. that is why, children,
the cypress is known as sorrow,
endurance. in a nearby palace,
diplomats haggle the price of
refugees. the black sea
tells my story. i shall not
break from hard russian soil.
© Robert Martens