In the Wake of a Disaster

By OKSANA MAKSYMCHUK

A flash of light—
out of the corner of my eye.
Fireflies, the thought flicks on—and dies.
Outside, the night air slaps my face
like a sheet of ice. Tufts of grass
crackle underfoot, porcupines
crawling up my spine.

The power goes out at night.
The house grows colder, its walls
begin to shiver, and we, its organs,
organize. My little son arrives
at my bedside, breathless,
in an inflatable boat.
We go to the window and search for signs.

Disorder everywhere: suitcases
strewn all over lawns, baby carriages
spilling bottles and toys, towers
of books toppling in the driveways. But the sky’s
perfectly ordered, still. In my chest I grope
for a moral law. And I find—
beating powerfully—a starfish.

Oksana Maksymchuk‘s writing has appeared in Words Without BordersPoetry InternationalModern Poetry in Translation, Los Angeles Review of Books,New Orleans ReviewSalamanderCimarron Review, and elsewhere. She won first place in the 2004 Richmond Lattimore and 2014 Joseph Brodsky / Stephen Spender translation competitions and received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Most recently, she co-edited the anthology Words for War: New Poems from Ukraine. Maksymchuk teaches philosophy at the University of Arkansas.

[Purchase Issue 16 here.]

In the Wake of a Disaster

Related Posts

Silvia Guerra

Translation: Moss on a Smooth Rock

SILVIA GUERRA
Nocturnally tied / The aquatic whistling pine / and the goldfinch in the garden / Over the dark torment / of being one Of being two / of loving // The waters / the swans. / The lagoon // The thin horizon / and shivering straw / At the sides of / the line...

Image of a goat on a cliff.

Trap Street

KAREN SKOLFIELD 
Twitch of the cartographer’s hand and a street / is born, macadam free, a tree-lined absence, / paved with nothing but a name. No sidewalks, / no chalk, no children’s voices, / a fence unlinked from its chains, / the cars unmoored, corn left to its rubble...

Image of a dark meadow with naked trees.

Recollections

ALEKSANDAR HEMON 
My father once asked me: How is it I can recollect / with utmost clarity what happened forty years ago, / but not what I did this morning at all? I didn’t know, / but I recognized I would always recall that moment. / It was late summer. We were driving to the country / to see my grandfather...