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Photo by Azimbek Assarov on Unsplash

The Ballad Of Saint Petersburg

When the air turns cold and the sky turns grey,
That’s when my mind wings its way
Across the North and Baltic Sea
To my old haunt of SPB,

My first glimpse came long before
In the form of a child’s jigsaw,
A cartoon city boldly sketched
On Eastern Europe’s western edge,

How interesting that city seemed,
But little Lauren never dreamed
That life would one day take her there,
Too big a dream-she wouldn’t dare,

Fast forward more than thirteen years,
I lugged my suitcase and my fears
Across the North and Baltic Sea
To my old haunt of SPB,

How clearly I can still remember
The mild grey days of that September,
When all of it was still so new,
And we were spoilt for things to do,

And so we set about exploring
A city that was never boring,
Where landmarks lie down every street,
Where East and West seamlessly meet,

Where baroque architecture makes
Cathedrals look like wedding cakes,
And palaces in pastel hues
Provide truly breath-taking views,

I still miss after all these years
Twenty-four-hour pizzerias,
The pancake houses, and of course
Steaming bowls of bright red borscht,

To think that former Leningrad
Boasts the best carbonara I ever had,
The best baclava and what’s more,
Piña Coladas to die for,

I may look back fondly today,
But that wasn’t always the way,
To say I loved it would be a lie,
Living beneath that cold grey sky,

Four months slipped by rapidly,
It got light at ten and dark at three,
The rain was more like bullets than drips,
And the Gulf wind flayed the skin from your lips,

Perhaps if I had gone in spring
And seen the Neva sparkling,
Then I could have appreciated
A place I was convinced I hated,

Yet in my mind that place still lingers,
Reaching out with ghostly fingers,
Beckoning me across the sea,
To my old haunt of SPB,

The most memorable autumn of my life,
Despite the tension, stress and strife,
I loved it retroactively,
Those four months spent in SPB,

It’s that time of year once more,
Memories jostle to the fore,
I can’t forget, no way, no how,
Still they bleed into the now,

I carry them with me to this day,
They surface when the sky turns grey,
I look up and it’s like I’m there,
Breathing in the Russian air,

I made a promise long ago,
When I’ll keep it, I don’t know,
But I’ll go back eventually,
To my old haunt of SPB.

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