Liz’s Poetry Series: Dancing in Odessa

by lizard

I’m not going to link to the pictures of charred bodies coming from Odessa. News of ‘dozens’ dead—actually 43 and counting—in a building fire is enough.

Who knows what this means, who did it, who died.

Thinking Odessa, I consulted Ilya Kaminsky’s book Dancing in Odessa (Tupelo Press, 2004) and I’ll let the first poem speak for itself.

*

Author’s Prayer

If I speak for the dead, I must leave
this animal of my body,

I must write the same poem over and over,
for an empty page is the white flag of their surrender.

If I speak for them, I must walk on the edge
of myself, I must live as a blind man

who runs through rooms without
touching the furniture.

Yes, I live. I can cross the streets asking “What year is it?”
I can dance in my sleep and laugh

in front of the mirror.
Even sleep is a prayer, Lord,

I will praise your madness, and
in a language not mine, speak

of music that wakes us, music
in which we move. For whatever I say

is a kind of petition, and the darkest
days must I praise.

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