Reflections on a Line by Anna Akhmatova*

“Earth takes us in a while as transient guests.”
The sky maintains its ancient look of innocence.
The seven seas dutifully repeat: the sky is blue.
Yet all is altered by our residence.

The sea that tumbles onto shore is not the sea
we waded in as kids. We’ve changed its nature.
Islands of our waste the size of several Texases
suggest it’s time for our departure.

Grant the sky its innocence; the atmosphere
in which we live and breathe bears witness
to a hundred thousand airplane flights a day,
which expedite our unmourned exodus.

“Earth takes us in a while as transient guests.”
We’ve had our time, and now it’s time to leave.



*The line is from “The Four of Us,” written in
November 1961, as translated by Stanley Kunitz.


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