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2008

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Anna Politkovskaya to Katie Couric
Marty McConnell

Kate. America’s godfearing heart
sleeps in your night garden, nested

among the stones. there’s a cancer
in the planet none of your televised tests

can detect – you’re a Jew. you know
refuge, and its failings. how your boys

and your bodies are never safe
in a country that doesn’t love

an unprofitable peace. I believed
the truth would keep back the dark,

keep back Putin and his farmers of war
long enough for Russia, for Chechnya,

for America to remember that we
are mothers first. I was wrong. four

shots wrong. the chest, the chest,
the shoulder, the head. do you know

who haunts me, Kate? even
in this long sleep? an Anna

at Nord-Ost, who took that theater
with explosives roped to her waist.

nothing of terrorism, nothing
of suicide bombings, exists

in the Chechnyan tradition –
but this Anna whose babies

were slaughtered and raped,
husband forced to watch

and then slain, tied grenades
to her belly and said it makes no

difference where we die so we
will die here, in Moscow,

we will choose our fate.
do you say, mother country?

does she bring you seeds
in your sleep? 48 years

I gave her, and my son,
and my daughter, I loved them, and

Russia, but everywhere I walked the dirt
ran blood and the rocks watched like men –

don’t you see it? doesn’t it stain your good
shoes, your sleep, how do you not

cry out Chechnya each night, or
Darfur, or even Cabrini Green?

are the studio lights so blinding,
Katie? where are your feet? how

are you not in the street, with the bleeding
and the reek? do you think your quiet,

your cute, will save you, Katie? your neat,
hard-hitting interviews and long legs, a cut-

away desk, billboards and accolades
from the boys with all the strings? I

was loved, and I was killed. maybe
I should have been on TV, taken one

of our three stations with grenades
at my waist and force-planted

what I knew. what do your
high profile and signature grin

buy for your government, Kate?
when they draft your daughter Elinor

in three years to end the civil war
they began, where will you stand?

they poisoned me on my way
to save first-graders at Beslan,

they gassed civilians to stop
my negotiations at Nord-Ost–

the bellies of men who would eat
our young are bottomless

and ravening. I have given
them my bones, Kate, and still

their hunger grows. For Ilya,
for Caroline, for Vera, for

Elinor – leave the garden,
Katherine. quit watering the stones.