On Closing Anna Karenina

My sister passed on to me this poem by Billy Collins, the poet laureate. It’s *brillliant*, I tell you! At last, someone else who agrees with me that Anna Karenina is unmitigated drivel.

On Closing Anna Karenina, by Billy Collins

I must have started reading this monster
a decade before Tolstoy was born
but the vodka and the suicide are behind me now,
all the winter farms, ice-skating and horsemanship.

It consumed so many evenings and afternoons,
I thought a Russian official would appear
to slip a medal over my lowered head
when I reached the last page.

But I found there only the last word,
a useless looking thing, stalled there,
ending its sentence and the whole book at once.

With no more plot to nudge along and nothing
to unfold, it is the only word with no future.

It stares into space and chants its own name
as a traveler whose road has just vanished
might stare into the dark, vacant fields ahead,
knowing he cannot go forward, cannot go back.