No. 6


Ilya Kaminsky  


                           “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 order.
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 eyes closed
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, 2004)




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