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The clouds grew fatter toward the end

of his life. He began to risk

cutting the greys with

sickles of slant light from

hidden suns. The wind turned round

and careful the mythic strokes

of smoke on lakewater. The bay

mud of the bog, the blurred valley

in morning fog rinsed into

tight bundles of gathered grass

and dry sheaves. On the wall

of his white house, bright drops

of a violet Italian spring with olive,

mint, and cherry pink. The mountain

close, pristine, and blazing.

Even the deepest shadow lapis-blue.

In anyone’s portrait, Levitan’s eyes

are heavy, gentle, unfocused—

his room on the river at Plyos

always quiet, his heart always failing.

Each new landscape under a veil.

A tiny church on an island

from the air. A storm

over radial clefts of country road.

Crops on a hillside shedding

ochre into currents and bent reeds.

Then, the final turn toward winter—

his people wrapped like exiles in black

faceless and calm, moving moonless

beneath bare trees. Fresh folds of snow

on the flanks of the benches. Clear and slow,

they follow the signals he’s left for them—

a string of flares, the little unloosed lanterns.


MARINA KRAISKAYA is a Ukrainian-American poet. She won the 2023 Markham Prize for Poetry and has been nominated for the Pushcart and Best New Poets. Find her in Zone 3, The Shore, EcoTheo, The L.A. Review, Poetry International, and more. Please visit


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