Wendy Drexler

Irina Ratushinskaya, Soviet Dissident Poet and Novelist, Dies at 63 —The New York Times, July 15, 2017 

I read your obituary, four brutal years
in a Gulag prison where you wrote your poems
on a bar of soap with a burnt matchstick,
memorized them, then washed your hands
and your poems down the drain.
Despite the freezing, the hunger,
the forced labor, sharpening your mind
on a matchstick.       What strength to write
of the first beauty you saw in captivity—
frost on a window: only ablue radiance
on a tiny pane of glass. I, too, see that
adamance, that everything is attached to everything:
the frost to the glass; oyster shells to a rock
they can’t be pried from; the moon to the sky;
the ocean to its wave; your bar of soap,
to the burnt ash of the match: long enough.

First appeared in Muddy River Poetry Review


Wendy Drexler’s third poetry collection, Before There Was Before, was published by
Iris Press in March 2017. She’s also the author of Western Motel (Turning Point, 2012)
and the chapbook Drive-Ins, Gas Stations, the Bright Motels (Pudding House, 2007). Her
first children’s book, Buzz, Ruby, and Their City Chicks, coauthored with Joan Fleiss
Kaplan, was published by Ziggy Owl Press in 2016. Her poems have appeared widely in
such journals as Barrow Street, Ibbetson Street, Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, Salamander,
The Mid-American Review, The Hudson Review, The Worcester Review, and
the Valparaiso Poetry Review; featured on Verse Daily and WBUR’s Cognoscenti; and in
the anthologies Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust and Burning
Bright: Passager Celebrates 21 Years. Her website is wendydrexlerpoetry.com.