I learned to know how faces fall apart,

How fear, beneath the eye-lids, seeks,

How strict the cutting blade, the art

That suffering etches in the cheeks.

How the black, the ash-blond hair,

In an instant turned to silver,

Learned how submissive lips fared,

Learned terror’s dry racking laughter.

Not only for myself I pray,

But for all who stood there, all,

In bitter cold, or burning July day,

Beneath that red, blind prison wall.

[anna akhmatova]

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