(The Amber Room, Yekaterinsky dvorets, Tsarkovoe Selo)
All morning we waited, spoke in the rain
under steaming umbrellas, of monuments
and shrines along the road. We lent our coats
to others. Wind stroked the curved courtyard pink
with gravel. Later, behind massive doors,
our feet in soot-colored slippers, wheels
clicked and turned. We blinked at outlines, at shadows
and illuminations. One face refracted
in mirrors and gilded panels, one knocked
its bones on cabinets with inlaid roses.
Parlors gashed with crimson, crumpled green foil;
and then one room where the white ruched curtains
became mottled skin, became ferrous oxide,
resin. I paused on the threshold, the broken carapace.