Summer 1995 • Vol. XVII No. 3/4 European VoicesJuly 1, 1995 |

Count Orlov

He slept with the Empress; fathered her child; Strangled her husband. The funeral scarves Hid his fingers' scars. His marches split Poland. His last, passion? Horses: a dark trotting breed. I have seen one shot, in a Fifties' book. There were three thousand stud farms. Now nobody knows His battles; his name. Some remember the woman. On a crumbling station, an old, drunken man Sweeps his brown arm. "Ykaterina!" "His village was founded by Catherine the Great. He would show it to you, if you had more time." The June willows flinch from a light evening wind. Next day brings a new halt, where goats are let free By a boy, wrinkle-stockinged. An older boy stands As peering in darkness, past jumbles of sheds, New earth mounds, old sleepers. He watches her trotElectric excitement. By the bare rails She skitters; kids scatter. Loosed without care She rears through soft sky, plunges down a hard head; Her breath sparks my palm's heat. Orlov's black mare.

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He slept with the Empress; fathered her child; Strangled her husband. The funeral scarves Hid his fingers' scars. His marches split Poland. His last, passion? Horses: a dark trotting breed. […]

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