Svetlana Turetskaya


Pure love is Sonya Marmeladova
from Crime & Punishment, a teenage
prostitute who provides for her family
& puts on a hat with a fire-colored feather
so she can take it off. Takes it off,
lays it gently on a chair, the feather
on the hat points at the door. Opens
on her knees

Lucky to be underneath
Dostoevsky’s monstrous genius
Humiliated, crushed, bedizened
and ashamed
, the genius writes
about her, makes her

Give her father her last 30 kopecks
for his drink at the tavern
so that drunk & disoriented he steps
onto the street & falls under the feet
of a horse & his wife unbuttons
his shirt all soaked in blood. Enters
an enormous field filled with delicate
white feathers gently blowing
in the wind, while the red, monstrous
sun silently looks on. My God!
His whole chest is crushed!

Sonya fastens her fire-feather hat,
wraps herself in the green shawl
her father opens the door for her,
motions her to go in, gives her
a little item, points to a corner,
to a bench, asks
to place the item there
a jewelry box? With his dignity
or hers?

From the threshold she sees that
the whole of eternity is one little room,
a village bathhouse, covered in soot,
with spiders in all the corners

she walks through the door, puts
the item on the bench. Loves him.



Love Is a Mother

with a suitcase
bolted to her chest
fire-feather in her hat
waiting by the door

into a room where
Raskolnikov is confessing his
murder to Sonya
with an ear to the wall Svidrigailov
listens to his confession

& in that moment
stops feeling boredom
& the leather of the suitcase
stretches, then fits

bolted to her chest

little Svidrigailov
lying on his back
on a hot summer day
on an enormous field
of yellow tall grass, blowing gently
in the wind, below the red sun
the beloved boy

picks up the bug
crawling on his leg
kisses it, puts it on his belly
pulls his shirt up
draws his breath in
makes his belly a cave
for the bug to fall into

& laughs
& notes the smell
of something leathery

then crawls
feet first into
his animal



Svetlana Turetskaya’s poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Blackbird, The Cortland Review, Prairie Schooner, Pleiades, Hayden’s Ferry Review, New Orleans Review, and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best American Stories. She is the recent recipient of a “waiter” scholarship in poetry to Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, she now resides in Seattle and works at The Northwest School.