Denise Levertov

A Note to Olga (1966)

Of lead and emerald
the reliquary
that knocks my breastbone,

slung around my neck
on a rough invisible rope
that rubs the knob of my spine.

Though I forget you
a red coal from your fire
burns in that box.

On the Times Square sidewalk
we shuffle along, cardboard signs
-Stop the War-
slung around our necks.

The cops
hurry about,
shoulder to shoulder,

Your high soprano
sings out from just
in back of me—

We shall—I turn,
you’re, I very well know,
not there.

and your voice, they say,
grew hoarse
from shouting at crowds…

yet overcome
sounds then hoarsely
from somewhere in front,

the paddy wagon
gapes.—It seems
you that is lifted

limp and ardent
off the dark snow
and shoved in, and driven away.