(from the Natalia sequence)
“You will die on a boat from Yalta to Odessa”
— 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 see 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.
Envoi was published in Dancing In Odessa (Tupelo Press, 2004).
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission of the author.