“You will die on a boat from Yalta to Odessa”
—a fortune teller, 1992
What ties me to this earth? In Massachusetts,
the birds force themselves into my lines—
the sea repeats itself, repeats, repeats.
I bless the boat from Yalta to Odessa
and bless each passenger, his bones, his genitals,
bless the sky inside his body,
the sky my medicine, the sky my country.
I bless the continent of gulls, the argument of their
The wind, my master
insists on the joy of poplars, swallows, —
bless one woman’s brows, her lips
and their salt, bless the roundness
of her shoulder. Her face, a lantern
by which I live my life.
You can see us, Lord, she is a woman dancing with her
and I am a man arguing with this woman
among nightstands and tables and chairs.
Lord, give us what you have already given.
First appeared in Dancing In Odessa (Tupelo Press,