Click here to listen to Alfred Corn read this poem.
Mind, though they've banned material counterparts,Your conscious page and pen got past the guards.
Think back to Mandelshtam at the Black Sea,
Composing silently, invisibly …
"It must be memorable." Yes, or else
Our uninscriptions will unwrite themselves.
Then, too, if bombs incinerate this brain,
It won't recall so much as my own name.
Exile, silence, equal oblivion?
Ask Mandelshtam. His Tristia may have been
The only book an author ever wrote
Each word of which the beloved got by heart.
Words fade to black if not made memories of.
Love, if it means to live, is spoken love.
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