from Deaf Republic: 11

By Ilya Kaminsky b. 1977 Ilya Kaminsky

It is December 8 and my brother Tony was killed by the soldiers. December 8 and the police are reopening the Southern Trolleyways. December 8 when my wife lifts Tony’s body from the ground, his arm tied over her shoulder—her face is damp, her hair dirty. And the soldiers unveil the damn Trolleyways, and I stand feeling (a quick march of bumps across my back and thighs) nothing.

When she comes home, I run a bath for Sonya and wash her hair, gently mixing the finest of my brother’s shampoos with quiet precision, while Sonya cries and cries.

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 Social Commentaries, War & Conflict

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

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