IK (1977 / Odessa)

from Deaf Republic: 2. 9AM Bombardment

Running down Vasenka street my clothes in a pillowcase
I was looking for a man who looks exactly like me
so I could give him my Sonya, my name, my clothes.
Running down Vasenka street with my lips moving,
one of those who run from the trolley that bursts like an intestine in the sun,
those who lock the door, lock it with the second key,
and who try to speak, stutter but try to speak.
A wife screams as if she were in labor & she was in labor.

Running by windows where women bought lemon and fish and garlic,
to the right madame Gornik painted icons sold at morning,
to the left lived Veronina, mother of two boys
who stole tomato sandwiches from her boys.
We stuttered and drank and laughed like barefoot peasants
and also drank quietly, damning only the earth and quietly
we made vodka from cherries, vodka from wooden chairs.

It has begun: they climb the trolleys
at the thief market, breaking
all their moments in half. And the army officers
in the clanging trolleys shoot at our neighbors' faces
and in their ears. And the army officer says: Boys! Girls!
take your partner two steps. Shoot.

It has begun: I saw how the blue canary of my country
picks breadcrumbs from each soldier's hair
picks breadcrumbs from each soldier's eyes.
Rain leaves the earth and falls straight up as it should.
To have a country, so important,
to run into walls, into streetlights, into loved ones, as one should.
Watch their legs as they run and fall.
I have seen the blue canary of my country
watch their legs as they run and fall.

by Ilya Kaminsky

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