Andrew Wachtel

July 11, 2012 Wachtel Andrew



I figure four times, you make it five

that we’ve been married.

The ceremonies shorten.  For the first

my father chopped a branch of apple tree

and made an indoor bower where we stood,

me in white, you in terror

before the Justice of the Peace we hired

from the phone book, and your uneasy kin.

The next rites went unwitnessed.

Faithless in small ways, if faithful in large,

we’d rupture quickly,  you’d mend fast,

I in a longer siege of silence.

We’d recommit with fewer words.

Learning to forgive you

began my own atonement.

I thought we would survive,

but without love.

That we survived was love.

Andrew Wachtel is Professor of the Humanities at Northwestern University and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the author of ten books and more than a hundred articles on Russian and South Slavic literature, culture, and society. In 2004 he published Anzhelina Polonskaya, A Voice: Selected Poems (Northwestern University Press).  In 2013 Polonskaya and Wachtel will release a bilingual edition of Polonskaya’s poems entitled Paul Klee’s Boat (Zephyr Press).