|PĆAN #22 (FROM MAVKA)
I wanted the kind of love that alone can cleanse
The world of all its filth…
I wanted your hair that I might forget the blood-stained ceiling
of my youth, her Bible and all the sins it contained. I wanted your
eyes that, in seeing them, my own might be cleansed of her sacrifice.
She danced naked before her God, she danced with knives, carved
herself up, and chose God over me and my clumsy speech. I wanted
your lips, that I might hear Lisowa Pisnya in its own tongue. To lay
wild flowers in your lap, I wanted to kiss your knees. I wanted your
borsch, your mushrooms, your adjika and your dumplings. I wanted
your Ukraine, its witchcraft of wind and rain, your wet dress. To close
my eyes, rest my head on the cloud of your belly, and sleep your sleep.
I wanted the poetry of having a wife. Look, a fox trots off with an orange
house cat in its mouth, proud to feed its young. While in Lhasa the Potala
is a tourist trap; while abortions in Baghdad are performed with shrapnel;
while Aung Sang Suu Kyi remains under house arrest; while a baby
at Wounded Knee forever suckles a breast grown cold; while napalmed
children in Vietnam still scream, naked in our collective conscience;
while Nagasaki and Auschwitz continue to testify; while Vasyl Stus dies
each night in a gulag near Perm, his poetry smuggled west. Can the love
I ask of you cleanse the world of Pol Pot’s skulls? Can it stop the bleeding,
human DNA in Kandahar mud, the Janjaweed’s war crimes in Darfur?
I wanted the kind of love that alone can cleanse the world of all its filth.. I wanted
your breath, whole nights of your breath, I wanted the wine of your breathing.
The failed loves of my past to fade into irrelevance. I wanted to walk, to walk
every day, to rejoice in the flex of your legs. I wanted a world of your walking.
I wanted to leave the filth behind, I wanted the God in your voice to beckon me.
|PĆAN #19 (FROM MAVKA)
…(O his bones are hard, he is strong, that old man)
let him create a new earth
Strong bones; hair horse-
radish-hued; from his dark
navel the thick vine laden,
the cluster, his cross, his
lantern and ka. Caw, his
sweaty beard coughs up
a hairy sun, a broken yolk,
such a bird’s nest is he!
But now shelling shrimp,
chopping basil, brought
to his knees he shuts his
eyes. How he misses
her like hell.