A firebird on ice – South West Moscow, a forest park 1984


She wobbled on thickened legs
stiffly on an iced over path
between frozen trees,
hanging whitened chandelier droplets,
magically lit by white, white snow,
this worn out babushka
in her plain straight coat,
shawl and no nonsense boots.

I felt a voyeur, observing detail,
as she paused before me,
at the edge of a lake of glass,
taking off her boots,
wheezing, panting,
first one, then the other,
putting on elongated skates,
sharp edges, metallic,
she grazed the lake,
scratching its glass.

I’d slowed, feeling old,
on the path, breathing
in her supple dancing darts
across the ice,
no more a wheezing babushka
on swollen legs,
this graceful girl with wings.


© Lliwen Jones, 2016

Public Domain Photo


The above is a a true story. The following is from Wikipedia re: firebird. In Slavic folklore, the Firebird is a magical glowing bird from a faraway land, which is both a blessing and a bringer of doom to its captor.

The story of the Firebird inspired many literary works, including “The Little Humpback Horse” by Pyotr Yershov. The most famous production of the Firebird was by Sergei Diaghilev of Ballet Russe who commissioned composer Igor Stravinsky to create the enormously popular large-scale ballet score known as The Firebird.

In a cheap hotel