Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Yevgeny Yevtushenko
1933- Russian

We were sitting about taking coffee
in the aerodrome cafe in Copenhagen
where everything was brilliance and comfort
and stylish to the point of tedium.
The old man suddenly appeared
or rather happened like an event of nature,
in an ordinary greenish anorak
his face scarred by the salt and burning wind,
ploughing a furrow through the crowded room
and walking like a sailor from the wheel.
His beard was like the white foam of the sea
brimming and glistening around his face.
His gruffness and his winner's certainty
sent up a wave around him as he walked
through the old fashions aping modern fashions
and modern fashions aping old fashions.
He in his open collar and rough shirt
stepping aside from vermouth and pernod
stood at the bar demanding Russian vodka
and waving away soda with a 'No'.
He with the scars marking his tanned forearms
his filthy trousers and his noisy shoes
had better style than anyone in the crowd.
The solid ground seemed to quiver under
the heavy authority of that tread.
Somebody smiled across: 'Look at that!
you'd think that was Hemingway,' he said.
Expressed in details of his short gestures
and heavy motions of his fisherman's walk.
He was a statue sketched in a rough rock,
one treading down bullets and centuries,
one walking like a man hunched in a trench,
pushing aside people and furniture.
It was the very image of Hemingway.
(Later I heard that it was Hemingway.)

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