from Deaf Republic: 1

By Ilya Kaminsky b. 1977 Ilya Kaminsky
Such is the story made of stubbornness and a little air,
a story sung by those who danced before the Lord in quiet.
Who whirled and leapt. Giving voice to consonants that rise
with no protection but each other’s ears.
We are on our bellies in this silence, Lord.

Let us wash our faces in the wind and forget the strict shapes of affection.
Let the pregnant woman hold something of clay in her hand.
For the secret of patience is his wife’s patience
Let her man kneel on the roof, clearing his throat,
he who loved roofs, tonight and tonight, making love to her and her forgetting,
a man with a fast heartbeat, a woman dancing with a broom, uneven breath.
Let them borrow the light from the blind.
Let them kiss your forehead, approached from every angle.
What is silence? Something of the sky in us.
There will be evidence, there will be evidence.
Let them speak of air and its necessities. Whatever they will open, will open.

NOTES: These poems are from the unfinished manuscript Deaf Republic. This story of a pregnant woman and her husband living during an epidemic of deafness and civil unrest was found beneath the floorboards in a house in Eastern Europe. Several versions of the manuscript exist.—IK

Source: Poetry (May 2009).

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This poem originally appeared in the May 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

May 2009
 Ilya  Kaminsky

Biography

Poet Ilya Kaminsky was born in the former Soviet Union city of Odessa. He lost most of his hearing at the age of four after a doctor misdiagnosed mumps as a cold, and his family was granted political asylum by the United States in 1993, settling in Rochester, New York. After his father’s death in 1994, Kaminsky began to write poems in English. He explained in an interview with the Adirondack Review, “I chose English because no . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Judaism

Poetic Terms Mixed

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