We must speak not only of great devastation

illustration of a brown door with an accordion coming out of the peep hole, shining light. A paper hat made of newspaper below.
Art by Kristina Closs

Eulogy

By Ilya Kaminsky (1977-)

You must speak not only of great devastation—

we heard that not from a philosopher
but from our neighbor, Alfonso—

his eyes closed, he climbed other people’s porches and recited
to his child our National Anthem:

You must speak not only of great devastation—
when his child cried, he

made her a newspaper hat and squeezed his silence
like two pleats of an accordion:

We must speak not only of great devastation—
and he played that accordion out of tune in a country

where the only musical instrument is the door.

from Deaf Republic

I haven’t touched anyone in a year

Here is a poem I’ve always loved by Solmaz Sharif, whose necessary work, including her first book Look, I can’t recommend enough–and who I am lucky to know not just on paper but in life as a dear friend.

an illustration of a blue egg on a plate with white bones and line drawings of arugula around it
Art by Kristina Closs

“Beauty”

Frugal musicality is how Kristeva described depression’s speech

Cleaning out the sink drain

The melted cheese

The soggy muesli

My life can pass like this

Waiting for beauty

Tomorrow—I say

A life is a thing you have to start

The fridge is a thing with weak magnets, a little sweaty on the inside

A bag of shriveled lime

Arugula frozen then thawed then frozen again, still sealed

I haven’t touched anyone in a year

You asked for beauty, and one morning, a small blue eggshell on the stoop, shattered open, its contents gone

Likely eaten

M asked if I’ve ever made a choice to live and why

I lied the way you lie to the suicidal

few times, I said—not Most days

Most mornings

No, not morning

Morning I am still new

Still possible, I’m still possibly

Usually by 3:00

When grandmother died, she hadn’t been called beautiful in at least half a century

Is never described as such

Her fallen stockings, the way she spit, thwack of the meat cleaver, the little bones she sucked clean and piled on her plate, not really looking at anyone, and certainly not me

Lately, I am capable only of small things.

This poem I’ve always loved by Olena Kalytiak Davis (1963-) feels so eerily apt right now.

93670725_509519909717929_1498220734718148608_n.jpg
My desk tonight.

“Postcard”

Lately, I am capable only of small things.

Is it enough
to feel the heart swimming?

Jim is fine. Our first
garden is thick with spinach
& white radish. Strangely,
it is summer

but also winter & fall.

In response to your asking:
I fill the hours
then lick them shut.

Today, not a single word, but the birds
quietly nodding
as if someone had suggested
moving on.

What is that perfect thing
some one who once believed in god said?

Please don’t misunderstand:
We still suffer, but we are
happy.