from Deaf Republic: 7. Sonya Considers Happiness

By Ilya Kaminsky b. 1977 Ilya Kaminsky
Dr. Alfonso Barabinsky wants
to go outside
I hold him down with my smaller body.
He walks, runs from his shoes to my kitchen.
He is drinking in my kitchen,
He swims in my kitchen with his varicose fat legs.
Alfonso, you fool. You
think it is brave to drink
vodka all morning on an empty stomach.
The walls of our apartment flash.
The walls of our apartment
stand. They are bombing his hospital.
He washes my face.
He fingerspells the names of patients.
The shadow of his fingers huge on the whitewashed wall.
The walls of our apartment flash.
When the bombs fall
we make children.

He kneels and kisses
through my skin
the shape of our only child.
They are bombing his office.
Takes his glasses off and lays them on the table like a shining weapon.
Throws his t-shirt
at our cat, fat hangs over his belt.
Pulls a stolen lemon
out his pocket.
They are bombing his hospital office,
But I am a ripe woman
a man could be happy.

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).


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

May 2009
 Ilya  Kaminsky


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 Relationships, Love, Social Commentaries, War & Conflict, Desire, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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