Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Strada Felice

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Strada Felice

Article excerpt

for Burton Weber

April in Rome and Gogol rises from his desk And looks down awhile from his balcony. The lamps are lit. A cart rattles by on the cobblestones. Forty years old And now, on this far street, the endless parade of towns Of shapeless Mother Russia assembles in his head; The lists of details stuffed in his trunk seem usable. Now two servant girls outside Kostroma, their skirts tucked up, Can wade in the pond with their nets, arguing, And the farmhand can sleep off his vodka in the shade of the fence As the hero's carriage totters up. It's go-getter Chichikov, Jumping out in the dust with his calling card. Any dead serfs for sale, he wonders, counting the huts. Any names for his paper estate? A few dozen more Should suffice to impress the mother of the rich girl. Here's a ruble for the ghost of Peter the tinner, For Stephen mender of sleds. Now back to the inn, Past the clerks returning from their walks, Past the women of the town in red skirts and furs, loitering, None of whom are noticed by Chichikov, none described In the letter not sent to a friend. …

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