portrait of poet Anna Akhmatova by painter Olga Della-Vos-Kardovskaia /// From her poem Requiem - “In the terrible years of the Yezhov terror I spent seventeen months waiting in line outside the prison in Leningrad. One day somebody in the crowd identified me. Standing behind me was a woman, with lips blue from the cold, who had, of course, never heard me called by name before. Now she started out of the torpor common to us all and asked me in a whisper (everyone whispered there): ‘Can you describe this?’
And I said: ‘I can.’
Then something like a smile passed fleetingly over what had once been her face. “
This passage makes me think about the importance of female artists and voices in the current climate — how desperately we need them to give language and shape and lend image — description! — to their experiences if the world is going to evolve through empathy into a more balanced, humane place.