When I saw the film Dr Zhivago
what stayed with me most was not
the winter palace sheathed in ice
nor the vicious stabbing of the innocent brother
in the exotic palace ballroom while revellers danced,
not even the two opposing armies,
the row upon row of impossibly young soldiers
grimly approaching one another,
their heavy boots pounding the frozen Moscow street
late in the night,
closer and closer
until face to face.
What stayed was this:
Zhivago’s return to Yuryatin
and his beloved Lara
after his escape from the army, his months-long trek across Russia.
How simple it was for him to retrieve the skeleton key
from the niche in the wall below and
climb the snowbound stair
to enter her rooms once again.
To find himself there,
her tiny apartment fully intact
on that crisp sunny afternoon,
her soup simmering on the stove
while she was briefly away.
There is her bed as Zhivago remembered it,
the same linens atop,
the finely-stitched pillow of her grandmother,
her family photos lined up identically
above the fire grate,
warming him now as it ever did.
And the soup spoons
still in the same drawer.