Saint Petersburg in July

Jane Clarke

No matter how high

          the temperature rises

there’s always a hint

          of Siberia in the air,

a memory of tundra

          and forest, a shadow

of hunger in the Marble Palace,
          always the women

in queues

          outside the prison.

There’s an icy glint

          on the bell tower tips,

no matter how bright
          the gilding shines.