He told me, repeatedly, that
people considered him
the most intelligent person
they’d met; that he was not
more successful was a conspiracy
of minorities, lesbians, blacks, and gays,
and a coterie of cliques
that sucked up all the grants.
He visits me; his handsome features,
now marred by fat, peer at me.
“What are you reading?” he asks.
(A hundred pages a day, to live.)
He is an expert on Nabokov,
international relations, modern art
David Foster Wallace, Heidegger,
and the poets I translate.
(And yet he never understood Karenina,
any more than Nabokov did,
as they focused on the crevices
in her carriage train,
in that foreshadowed bier,
but not on the abortions,
nor the Vronsky of her death.)
I remember feeling beautiful,
and those times people said
I was the smartest woman they knew.
"My Vronsky" appeared in the St. Petersburg Review