The tips of my fingers are numb when I wake up. It’s been happening for weeks. There’s a dull ache—a pinched nerve—in my right knee all the way up to my inner thigh. One time I was standing in the kitchen, and I hiccuped—and experienced the most painful muscle spasm in my lower back.

Is it aging, or is it being alone, the way I notice all these twinges my body makes. When something hurts and I call out, no one will hear.

Outside, right now: people are still disinfecting the streets. Today, in the news: more cases. Scientists are saying it will get worse.

I’ve been staring at the blank page for hours now, willing myself to write. But what? Once again I circle back to questions upon questions, and never enough answers, words repeating until they lose their meaning, until all I have left is the silence.

“Why Is This Age Worse…?”
Anna Akhmatova

Why is this age worse than earlier ages?
In a stupor of grief and dread
have we not fingered the foulest wounds
and left them unhealed by our hands?

In the west the falling light still glows,
and the clustered housetops glitters in the sun,
but here Death is already chalking the doors with crosses,
and calling the ravens, and the ravens are flying in.

— 1919

This is from Poems of Akhmatova by Anna Akhmatova, selected and translated by Stanley Kunitz with Max Hayward, published by Mariner Books, 1997.

Ah, but I ache, I ache. I just finished reading someone’s work that made me feel like I’ll never be the same again. My soul is bruised, I have been wounded in the sweetest of ways, and I don’t know how to go from here. My steps falter. I long to go back to myself a few minutes ago, a few hours ago, a few days ago, before I was irrevocably changed, but a voice whispers, Isn’t it what you wanted? Isn’t this what was meant to happen, when you turned to that page?

You Will Hear Thunder
Anna Akhmatova

You will hear thunder and remember me,
And think: she wanted storms. The rim
Of the sky will be the colour of hard crimson,
And your heart, as it was then, will be on fire.

That day in Moscow, it will all come true,
when, for the last time, I take my leave,
And hasten to the heights that I have longed for,
Leaving my shadow still to be with you.

Today a friend sat me down and told me to get my shit together. That a breaking heart is never easy, but will not kill me either. I am living, and it should matter. And then she shoved this poem into my hands and walked away.

The Sentence
Anna Akhmatova

And the stone word fell
On my still-living breast.
Never mind, I was ready.
I will manage somehow.

Today I have so much to do:
I must kill memory once and for all,
I must turn my soul to stone,
I must learn to live again—

Unless…Summer’s ardent rustling
Is like a festival outside my window.
For a long time I’ve foreseen this
Brilliant day, deserted house.

Discovered this poem today from a friend, whose breaking heart is a thing of beauty.

We Don’t Know How To Say Goodbye
Anna Akhmatova

We don’t know how to say goodbye.
We wander all over, shoulder to shoulder.
It is already starting to get dark,
You’re thoughtful, and I remain quiet.

Let’s go inside a church, and watch
A baptism, a wedding, a funeral.
Why can’t we live like that?
Let’s leave, not looking at each other.

Or, let us sit in the cemetery,
Quiet in the trampled snow.
And watch you trace with a stick,
Places where we will always be together.