Slush – Ode to N.V. Gogol (1809-1852)

by Reva Zerkalo

Nikolai Vassilievich Gogol huddles into his threadbare overcoat as he flails along snowswept Nevskii Prospekt. His rapid breathing creates stalagmites of mist in the twilight. Proboscis-nose angled towards the pavement, all he dares to decipher is an army of winter boots trudging towards him, trampling fairy tale snow into colourless slush… ‘Everything is a dream...'. Holes in his galoshi, feet so cold they feel like orphans… ‘Everything is a dream…'. Howling tundric wind swallows up his mantra, hungry for his words… ‘All is deceit...'. A troika of roaring machines gallops past, hurling clods of icy mud at him. He hears screeching, wailing, louder, louder, louder than all the bells in all the churches in all of Mother Rus tolling at once. Nikolai Vassilievich puts his hands over his ears. The noise! The cacophony!.. ‘Russia, where are you flying?..' He slides to a halt on a sheet of black ice, wobbles but doesn't quite fall and gazes upwards... ‘Answer me!..'  People armed with bags of goods slither through his wispy figure, impervious to his whispered pleas. They chatter into rectangular boxes clamped to their ears but they're talking to themselves because Nikolai Vassilievich can hear no answers... ‘There is no answer...'  He shivers in alarm at this brave new Russia, mutated beyond his widest hypnogogolia. Gimlet eyes from outlandishly large placards swivel round and glare at him. They don't approve. They tell him there is no place for him in this world. Nikolai Vassilievich Gogol valiantly waves his fist at these strange portraits and proceeds on his pilgrimage. A blizzard choreographs snowflake dances, sprinkling fairydust on his disappearing footsteps… ‘All is not what it seems...'  His incandescent words, smouldering on the slushpile of snow-blinded history... ‘All is not...'