It is your lynx eyes, Asia,
That spied something in me,
Teased it out, occult
And born of stillness,
Oppessive and difficult
Like the noon heat in Termez.
As though pre-memory’s years
Flowed like lava into the mind…
As if I were drinking my own tears
From a stranger’s cupped hands.
by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1945)
from Седьмая книга (The Seventh Book)
translation by D. M. Thomas
Fun fact: Termez (Uzbek: Termiz/Термиз; Russian: Термез; Tajik: Тирмиз; Persian: ترمذ Termez, Tirmiz; Arabic: ترمذ Tirmidh) is a city in the southernmost part of Uzbekistan near the Hairatan border crossing of Afghanistan. It is the hottest point of Uzbekistan hence Akhmatova’s referencing it in regards to this poem’s themes when referencing the noon heat there.
In January 1893 the emirate of Bukhara gave the land of the village Pattakesar to the Russian government to build a Russian fortress and garrison and a military border fortification, where the Amu Darya river port was built.
In 1928 as part of the Soviet Union, Pattakesar was renamed and took the city’s ancient name Termez. In 1929, the village became a town. During the years of Soviet rule industrial enterprises were built and a Pedagogical Institute and a theatre were opened.