Classic · Collection · Contemporary · Poetry · Russian Culture · Russian Literature

Ilya Kaminsky

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 the empty page is a white flag of their surrender.

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

who runs through the 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.”

Ilya Kaminsky, Dancing in Odessa (Tupelo Press, 2004)

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