After a while,
She must have begun to wonder
If any of it was real.
The muzhiks, lined in smiling shirts
To wave on her cortege
Through villages that still bore the trace
Of sawdust on the ground;
The courtiers, bowing low to her
As soon as her eyes fell upon them.

After a while,
She must have begun to wonder
If she was Empress of anything at all
In that great-halled palace,
Its soundless mirrors.
Mornings, signing the correspondence
And chancing upon regions whose names she knew
She must have come to doubt
The memory of distance,
The time it had taken to traverse them.

One day,
While she leafs through a volume of Faust,
She begins to wonder who he is,
This Admiral Potemkin,
Who conjures villages and serfs into being
To populate the vast expanse of maps.
She wonders, then,
If she were suddenly to wake,
Would she find herself the child of a peasant
Daydreaming at a starving table?
Or a high-school girl,
Staring vacantly into a screen
In some lost corner of Los Angeles?