Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2020  Vol. 19 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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As Soldiers March, Alfonso Covers the Boy’s Face with a Newspaper

Fourteen people, most of us strangers,
watch Sonya kneel by Petya

shot in the middle of the street.
She picks up his spectacles shining like two coins, balances them on his nose.

Observe this moment
—how it convulses—

Snow falls and the dogs run into the streets like medics.

Fourteen of us watch:
Sonya kisses his forehead—her shout a hole

torn in the sky, it shimmers the park benches, porchlights.
We see in Sonya’s open mouth

the nakedness
of a whole nation.

She stretches out
beside the little snowman napping in the middle of the street.

As picking up its belly the country runs.  

From Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky. Reprinted with permissions from Graywolf Press.

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