Y’s dog is breathing spit onto my face. The white night has become a white day, behind curtains. We lay in bed reading a book on American and English Literature. It is a better bed than mine, it is a better room than mine; I don’t own any books, anymore.
“This one is my favorite,” she says, snatching the book from my hand. She sits up and straddles me. She begins to read, in Russian.
It sounds like poetry. When I read poetry, it never sounds like poetry. When she finishes, I smile.
“Did you like it?” she asks.
“Did you understand it?”
She rolls her eyes.
“Will you read me another one?” I ask. She rolls backwards, off the bed. From her bookshelf she pulls two heavy books. She comes back to sit on me. She places the books on my chest. She opens the first one, lifts it to her face.
“I love the smell of new books,” she says. She pushes it under my nose. I agree.
“This is my favorite poem,” she says, “my mother used to read it to me, Anna Akmatova”
She reads it, touching the back of my hand.
“What does it mean in English?” I ask, once she has finished. She holds up a finger, then her phone.
Eventually she begins reading something, frowning, in English. It sounds like poetry. She stops, hands me the phone, shaking her head.
“There are too many translations, you read.”
I do. It doesn’t sound like poetry.
“Have you ever seen Gone with the wind?” I ask.
She shakes her head.
“It reminds me of gone with the wind.”
“Look, here, where it says ‘do not stand in the wind.'”
She looks at the line. “Because they’re both about wind?”
“No, no, because at the end of the movie, the woman he’s been in love with is chasing him to the door, begging him to take her back. But, he just says, frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
She frowns. “That’s not what it is about. She is telling her friend how she upset him and chased him from the house and then he says, do not stand in the wind, because he still cares about her and doesn’t want her to be cold.”
I laugh. “No, he is saying do not stand in the wind because she can’t do anything to get him back, so, she is wasting her time standing in the wind.”
She shakes her head. “No, I don’t think so.”
“Stupid,” she decides, “you’re stupid.”
I cross my arms. “I’m not stupid.”
“You are,” she walks back to the bookshelf. I stand up and start putting my shoes on.
“What are you doing?”
She rolls her eyes. “Oh I was kidding!”
I’m at the door.
“Don’t go, stop being stupid!”
I turn, I open my mouth.
“If you say ‘do not stand in the wind, I’m going to throw this book at you,” she says, holding up the book, menacing.
I walk back over. Take the book.
“Read me another one?”
She closes the book, places it on the shelf.
**for anyone who is curious. Here is a link to the poem: http://www.kulichki.com/poems/Poets/aa/Eng/aa_3.html