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 Borders, Poetry International, Modern Poetry in Translation, Los Angeles Review of Books,New Orleans Review, Salamander, Cimarron 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.
On the radio I hear about George Washington’s teeth.
A guest says what do you think his teeth were and a host
says wood. I’ve read about Waterloo teeth, how we prowled
battlefields, plucked teeth from young French corpses,
wired them up to make fresh rich people mouths.