to Valentina Serova
As I recall the year that's ending
I can't decide the happy time
When, more than any other moment,
I truly felt that you were mine.
Was it that night at your rehearsal?
The light that came on suddenly -
And your admonitory whisper
"You mustn't - everyone can see!"
Your starry robe for the old drama,
The riding whip held in your palms,
And how you ran to me so swiftly,
Straight from the stage into my arms...
Oh no, not then... Perhaps last summer,
I had a 24-hour pass
And reached you just as it was dawning
By all night driving on the gas.
And half awake and half still sleeping,
You jumped up barefoot from the bed
And tight against my dusty greatcoat
You pressed your sleepy little head.
Upon your neck, your veins were beating;
My hand could feel the pulse of life!
That morning, more than any other,
It seemed to me you were my wife....
And yet I felt you once still closer..
One night you gave me strength to fight -
Now I remember - it was winter,
That icy cliff at dead of night.
The major, checking through our pockets,
Had said no documents must go.
The scout must have no name or number
If he should perish in the snow.
We reached the other side at midnight,
Deep in the snow prepared for war,
The light were twinkling in the distance
In Russia, on the other shore.
I now admit to a deception:
As I prepared (perhaps) to die,
I kept the picture in my pocket
You gave me when we said goodbye.
Seen by the northern light, your portrait
Seemed, in the darkness, almost blue.
I felt that when I must go forward,
Your hand in mine, you would go too.
Just as you were when it was taken,
Dressed in the same white summer frock,
Silent, unseen, you climbed beside me,
High on that cliff of of icy rock.
I ask no pardon for deciding
That (if I live) I swear we'll say
That was the night of our betrothal.
That we shall call our wedding day.