from Deaf Republic
[before she died, months ago, Mother became deaf. She asked me to sit at the piano and play, as loudly as possible, the entire repertoire of Chopin. And while I played (the child inside me straightened her knee), Mother got on her hands and knees and bit into the piano's wood.]
(Her Mother's Pianos)
Whispering at night, I think I hear
my mother's voice: did I turn off the stove? No, not this,
but Did you plant the tulips over my grave?
No, not thismy Sonya
you are pregnant, daughter? Sonya!
my mother laughs, clever as a child.
I say "my mother" and again "my moth"
but she is weeping in the orchestra.
as they play Chopin: as the music bends
to her left, to her right. "Sonya
On the day of my death I will be playing piano," she smiled.
Mother did not play the piano
there was no piano, no pianobut I thought I saw
hundreds of old pianos forming
a bridge over the waters from Batnaystan to Alehiaand she sat at
each pianoshe did not play, she simply sat. The wind in
her hair. Drops of water in her hair. Her hair in her mouth.
They say so much sky in her chest addicted her.
They claim, with inappropriate laughter, she requested
to be locked in a bird house, refusing to believe in silence
Mother went to Opera with chickens in her pockets.
Nurses in blue skirts run in pigeon shit and snow
where is our bed in her hospital?
Only three of us know.
She bites a hole in the apple and in that hole
I pour a shot of vodka.
We drink from the apple in turn, to our health.
A government musicianjust before her deathMother
I will become a government musician
whispering: Better one of them should
die than one of us
she sets off for the beach, on foot, a good mile
and a half of wind,
a vodka glass in her pockets, and when the bottle is empty
she drops her striped dress and walks, her mouth open, into the sea.
in the chill and iron heart of cobblestone street every woman I meet
comes forth to kiss my face.
Every mother buried just east of town, an honest place
to drown, quiet homegrown bodies
lie down. Under this earth, she is no less blessed.
Those still alive must raise their hands.
Boatswain, I am your daughter! I let this water
fill my lungs' whisper: boatswain, I am your pregnant daughter.