It was snowing hard the afternoon I went to see Nadezhda Mandelstam. The snow melted off my coat and boots and made puddles on her kitchen floor. The kitchen smelled of kerosene and stale bread. On a table there were sticky purple rings made by a dishcloth printed with a map of Queensland hung from a hook on the door, a begonia and a jug of dried grasses left over from the lightness of a Russian summer.
A fat man in spectacles came out of the bedroom. He glared at me as he wound a grey scarf around his jowls, and then went out.
She called me in. She lay on her left side, on her bed, amid the rumpled sheets, resting her temple on a clenched fist. She greeted me without moving.