“Navalny” by Liya Akoury

Liya Akoury


He said, “Come outside.”
We did.
The snow was ankle-deep
And fine as flour.
“Come out!”
It made
A most satisfying sound
The frigid wind was sharp
On the small square of skin
Around the eyes,
Between the fur hat
and the face mask.
We marched,
Calling for his freedom,
Arrested by the thousands.

He said, “Don’t be afraid.”
He said, “The man
Hides in his bunker.
He is no scarier
Than this frost.”
He said, “Our people know
How to dress for winter.”
He said, “Come out, friends!”

He said, “Your Honor,
Please don’t interrupt!
Look at the man
Within these robes,
And be ashamed.
Look at this circus
Of a courtroom.
Look at me laughing,
So that I don’t cry.”

He said,
“Will no one meet my eyes!?”

He stood,
His smile defiant,
And with his piercing gaze
Traced every face inside that room,
And found his wife’s,
And struggled not to weep.

from Poets Respond
February 7, 2021


Liya Akoury: “I wrote this poem in response to Aleksey Navalny’s conviction at the Moscow kangaroo court. His stoicism and caustic humor have long been his signature qualities, but that day, we got to see another side of him. Watching him fight back tears as he looked at his wife one last time broke us—broke me—in a whole new way.” (web)


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