The dead children at Ekaterinburg
The palaces of Catherine and Alexander are mere memory now;
St. Petersburg has become an unstretched skin.
The family is in the basement, alive, but not for much longer.
There would be outcries later of lies and
conspiracies, putting the family in China, or Poland but now
they are just waiting.
Alexei, too weak to stand, is resting on his fathers lap while holding
Anastasia's hand. The rest of the girls huddle and clutch
against their mother; the doctor is there, though usually
forgotten, and two maids who, like their young mistresses
wish too, to be safe with their mothers. The soldiers march
into the low light, closing the door behind them.
They are ministers of death whose stories will be as unique
afterward as the angle's of their Cheka faces.
The Imperial family didn't have a chance, but the bullet holes
tell us that someone made it across the room to the door.
When the guns went off bullets ran through the four sisters like
rainwater. Though Nicholas shielded his son, Alexei's hand was
still clutching Ana's and she was quickly falling. The bullets ran
through the walls, through their corsets, sewn heavy inside
with the Romanov jewels. After it was over, and quiet, a single
moan rattled through the room. One officer called it a groan, another
claimed it was a strong cry for help. Yurovsky, with his pistol, put the
gun to the boy's head and shot him. again. again. again. until he
was sure to be dead. The bodies were carried out in baskets and loaded
into trucks to be taken deep into the woods.
The Cheka firing squad undressed the girls; laid them out under the
moonlight so their light skin could attract the stars.
They burned Nicholas with his medals, Alexandra with her pearls,
and Alexei in his sailor suite, but laid the girls aside.
Their slopping breasts must have seemed carved in the dark
for their dirty hands to stroke.
When each body was put into the fire they burned black and
coarse until the sun came up.
No one in Ekaterinburg heard the shots, or recognized the smell
from the woods.
While families ate from ration coupons the Cheka boiled what
was left of the bodies in acid, until - they claimed -
nothing was left. The aristocratic monarchy of three hundred years
of Romanov rule ended with the last outcry
of a hemophilic fourteen-year-old boy. Dead. But still holding
his sisters hand. Even in his condition, he might have made it
to twenty. Around their necks, Rasputin's profile burned with them
in gold lockets - 'The Saint!' Alexandra called him,
'The Prophet!' No one listened to his warning that they would
all be dead within the year.