Nabokov originally wanted to call his memoir Speak, Memory
Speak, Mnemosyne, but his publishers worried that English ladies wouldn’t ask,
in the bookstore, for a title they couldn’t pronounce.
What’s the name of the shape you see
when you close your eyes after looking at a light?
A flower, a terror, a child in the woods confusing yaddo, shadow,
searching for a great-horned owl.
In the long fairy tale of Nabokov’s childhood,
there is one moment when he thinks
of his father as mortal
because he has been challenged to a duel.
It is easier to love the dead, someone said to me.
Some poor, sick fuck.
When the two men draw their guns in a clearing in the forest,
who shoots first, the dead or the living?
Goodbye, goodbye, wave all you fine ladies goodbye,
goodbye to the pointelle pinafores and tassel caps—
A squirrel, freezes on the juniper.
When I turn off the music, I hear how quiet it has been.