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After Years in America

I return to St. Petersburg to meet Svidrigailov
In his room inside Crime & Punishment
Two hours before he places the revolver
To his right temple & pulls the trigger
After telling a stranger in a gray soldier’s coat
             that he is going to America

I creep in the corner of the black square of his
Room, laughing & burning & when he
Is through & sleeps I cry & cry from shame of
Degrading him again. My god, how corrupt
             my way of loving him! I take

The most revolting bites from the black swan
Of his soul, then wallow in the pleasure of
Self-disgust & then pray for us
             to go to America as soon as possible

And why, oh why do I wish for us
To go to America right away?
We still have two full hours of
Lives in St. Petersburg—a lifetime
             for two people, if you ask me


Svetlana Beggs’ poems have appeared or are forthcoming in CALYX JournalHayden’s Ferry ReviewPleiadesColumbia Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a 2016 work-study scholarship in poetry to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. A native of St. Petersburg, Russia, she lives in Seattle.