By Michael Willard

I looked up at the portrait of Maria Sosiura, surrounded as it was by a menagerie of tributes to her husband, Vladimir, a poet of the Russian revolution.

In my thoughts, I embraced the stillness and whisperings of the writer’s cavernous study.

Maria looked pleasant enough but still somewhat severe. It was hard to think this was a woman once known as an agent for the NKVD, the secret police, and one who tattled on writers who had less than fawning Soviet thoughts.