Fall 2006

Volume 1, Issue 2



Our Town

The Christmas display, polyresin homes lined
like towns we’ve never known, forty-eight windows
glowing, and the long sermons at Camp Calvary,
glimpses of the Ohio River through the gold and berry
stained glass, the cross reaching to the tip of the cathedral,
the wood beam, and how I wondered what might happen
if a storm rolled in, what all of us would do.
The window in Amherst, and Boo Radley,
Scarlet’s window, the Union soldier riding up her drive,
the window we cut out for Juliet’s play, how it leaned
when she called out to Romeo, the kitchen windows
our mothers fogged with brewing pots and dishwater,
where we drew our names, pretended our forefingers
were skaters gliding across ice to music, and how we rushed
with bagged lunches to street corners, holding our skirts
in the wind, checking ourselves, then running for that last
seat in the bus so we could lean our cheeks into the window
and watch children running, mothers in rollers, a world we knew.


I was born in Kyakhta

after Levine

In a Kyakhta shack level with a long white field.
No doctor, no nurse. Just a handsome woman
in exile who wanted to nurture me to the proper health,
height, and degree of reverence. All that night,
she held me to her breast, watching the windows
fog with falling snow that turned to ice. While I suckled,
she hummed a Russian hymn from her past. Later,
she listed the Baroque chapels of Odessa like a prayer
that would shield us from the dropping cold, the climate
of her Moscow full of women, she said, who once recited
Pushkin to their husbands and children. She listed names:
Lydia Ticheeva, Anya Chimakin, Elizabeth Vologda.
They will die, she said, as she will die, because all the land
was fighting and foul. From her I learned nothing of a dusk
that could send a soul into vibration, of a morning’s goldenrod,
of a horse dressed in dew. Near dawn, she rose and watched
the light crackle the ice and held me up to see an endless
field of white over a cold, hard ground.



At the earliest sounds of spring
In March, a tinny flop from the mail slot
Seems like a sound in my mouth,
A tongue’s click.

And the mail lady’s hand
A memory of all senses
Reaching into my house.
That tin cry—It was like

A new understanding of how
The news sinks in.

An open shove through,
Then a slamming shut.


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© 2006 Americana: The Institute for the Study of American Popular Culture