a bit shy, spring was still feeling
in that Easter week in April
in that country nestled into the eastern banks
of the Black Sea.
just afoot the Greater Caucasus,
the skies ware sealed by clouds just as
the sidewalks were seamed by puddles.
clothed in all we‘d brought,
we adjusted to all spectacles on the horizon,
until it was time to unpack
sunglasses and bare arms.
meanwhile, round, delicate and ever-flowing letters
pointed us toward places, statutes,
as well as a rich and complex history.
ducking beneath cables reaching
across the crowded city streets,
our marschrutka faithfully carried more
passengers than it was built for
to destinations far and near
the Aserbaidschan boarder, for instance.
only once, a 4×4 Lada took over
on our way into the mountains.
that day, snow-covered peaks appeared
by the grace of a sunnier, more optimistic day
in early spring.
all evenings, whether spent by the fireplace or in a downstairs pub,
were filled with Kinzmarauli, Saperavi
or Amber-colored alternatives.
Khathapurri or khinkali joined in
and never once disappointed for supper.
landscapes changed as quickly as those old
roads turned and twisted
and hinted at the fact that bitter sweets,
around here, made up
an entire literary genre.
folk songs sung by threes or fours past dusk
carried similar sentiments of nostalgia, naïveté,
romance, perhaps also loss.
gold-platted icons opaquely observed
believers and bystanders and other curious folks
and only subsided out there in the desert,
making room for a faithful daring.
it was a time too short for settling
but long enough for friendship,
ever promising that out there on the road,
the truth comes out
about compromises and companionship.
and to that we toasted again and again,
taking turns with speeches and odes
about which it’s worth living for.