—Russian poet and physicist who was sentenced
to seven years in a Soviet labor camp for writing about
freedom and God. We met at a conference in Oxford
and gave a joint poetry reading.
In the gulag, denied paper, she wrote her
words on soap, then rinsed them off into the icy air
like breathing hope into the world. The words
she held safe in the wide freedom of her memory.
They were words of faith and love and outrage.
They were like her children, held in her mind’s
embrace for all those years until she could
speak them aloud and own them without fear,
un-silenced and un-cowed.
I have her little gold pill box, a love gift, still
holding in its minor space a breath of her courage.