Ilya Kaminsky

A fellow poet recommended his work to me, and I have been reading his book, Dancing in Odessa. Here’s a poem from that book that I really like:


xxxxxxxxxxxxxxYou will die on a boat from Yalta to Odessa.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx–a fortune teller, 1992

What ties me to this earth? In Massachusetts,
the birds force themselves into my lines–
the sea repeats itself, repeats, repeats.

I bless the boat from Yalta to Odessa
and bless each passenger, his bones, his genitals,
bless the sky inside his body,
the sky my medicine, the sky my country.

I bless the continent of gulls, the argument of their order.
The wind, my master
insists on the joy of poplars, swallows,–

bless one woman’s brows, her lips
and their salt, bless the roundness
of her shoulder, Her face a lantern
by which I live my life.

You can find us, Lord, she is a woman dancing with her eyes closed
and I am a man arguing with this woman
among nightstands and tables and chairs.

Lord, give us what you have already given.

Ilya Kaminsky

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *