Scoundrel Time

Dear V: Two Poems by Margo Berdeshevsky

The Letter that Could Not Be Sent

Dear V:

Listen: I would have thought, it being winter right now, that drinking Borscht is better for keeping the soul warm than drinking Kool Aid, but what do I know. I’m just a descendant of a father born in the motherland who should be turning in his grave this Thursday. Me, his grieving daughter. Me, just a saddened woman who dreamt of peace during the first years of Glasnost. Had a Muskovite lover then who had two wives when I met him and wanted me for a third, all together—so—a troika—see how my Russian blood was trying to enjoy daring, darling, liberal possibilities? No? Not a moral enough plot? Well, I tried. Joined with my once upon friends. Incanted holy songs like holy monks for peace. Can we possibly not remember? We believed—in peace.

I wish you no luck. No angels will save your soul. They will be lost in the corpse-blackened February 2022 snow. But I will sing, alive or dead, with the rest, for peace, whether you can hear me or not.

Signed MB



In the Next Room

When my second husband beat me, who heard my silence? Did the passing overhead owl keen for me in the way only her voice was able? Did my white cat who had the mange yowl for me and my crippled response to run away, or did she hover and rub her back against my bed to ease her skin’s discomfort, wait for me to wake and feed her, hunger more important to her than tears?

Where is the next room to hear war and its mourners? Was it in the next room or was it across the planet or was it in the woods beside one trench filled with bodies outside a town in once upon Ukraine where my father was born? He always said he was Russian. Someone was howling and someone’s ancestor’s shade was crying and today a president of that same land to the east that has thousands buried in its sod heard the howl of the wife of an intelligence officer killed this morning. The president who whispered: I do not know how they will explain to three girls from Kyiv. Today they were left without a father. — Where is the next room to war and its mourners?

Comfortable in my candle lit room, I asked a stupid question and then put out the light and slept with my current cat and woke to the next installment of the war. Uncomfortable in my dark room I remember my drunk mama sobbing on her bed. Her Russian husband was an angry man and I was his angry daughter. Sundays were days when everyone shouted and everyone eventually cried in our separate rooms. Did our neighbors hear us through stone walls and laws of privacy? Do I love or hate the land of my father?

Is land more important than tears?

I have a fallen owl feather I gathered from that overhead wing, that passing Strix, as she flew the night. I found it at first light. Something to remember what night it was. What reason for crying. Now I open the box where I keep old objects, unwrap a soiled scarf, its kept feather. I use the quill point to scar my own skin, pierce it, watch blood sprout on my left breast, wait, certain that none can hear me in this room, from any other room. There are no walls today. No boundaries. Only the sound a drop of blood makes when it sprouts and asks to be remembered. 



Margo Berdeshevsky, born in New York city, often lives and writes in Paris. Her latest collection, Before The Drought, is from Glass Lyre Press, (a finalist for the National Poetry Series.) A new collection, It Is Still Beautiful To Hear The Heart Beat, is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry. Kneel Said the Night (a hybrid book in half-notes) is forthcoming from Sundress Publications. Berdeshevsky is author as well of Between Soul & Stone and But a Passage in Wilderness (Sheep Meadow Press.) Her book of illustrated stories, Beautiful Soon Enough, received the first Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Award for Fiction Collective Two (University of Alabama Press.) Other honors include the Robert H. Winner Award from the Poetry Society of America. Her works appear in Poetry International, New Letters, The Night Heron Barks, Kenyon Review, Plume, The Collagist, Tupelo Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Southern Humanities Review, Pleiades, Prairie Schooner, The American Journal of Poetry, Jacar—One, Mānoa, Pirene’s Fountain, Big Other, Dark Matter: Women Witnessing, among many others. In Europe and the UK her works have been seen in The Poetry Review, PN Review, The Wolf, Europe, Siècle 21, Confluences Poétiques, Recours au Poème, Levure Littéraire, Under the Radar. She may be found reading from her books in London, Paris, New York City, Los Angeles, Honolulu, at literary festivals, and/or somewhere new in the world. Her “Letters from Paris” have appeared for many years in Poetry International online. For more information, kindly see here : 





Image By: Margo Berdeshevsky