By BRUCE SNIDER
Over a hundred men suspected of being gay are being abducted, tortured and even killed in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya…
Looking out at the blue sky
we listen to news
of men in Chechnya. Touching
counters, our washrags move like ghosts.
You sweep the kitchen. I tend the cry
of the washing machine, the low roof
that is our only roof.
We’ve never seen the sky
in Chechnya but imagine it’s a blue cry
of birds and news
of birds rising like ghosts.
Above us, our neighbors touch
each other, an echo of touch:
their floor our roof,
their steps a patter of ghosts.
All day we stare out at the sky.
All day we listen to the news.
My shirt, your shirt, cries
the washing machine. We don’t cry
but hold hands on the sofa, touch
arm to arm, more news
of men under this one roof.
Still, outside: the blue sky.
Still, the day brims with ghosts
or what we mistake for ghosts:
a tremor in the trees, owl-cry.
We watch the TV’s vast sky,
turn from what we’ll never touch:
the men, the proof.
We change the channel: more news
to talk about to avoid the news.
Our faces in the screen now ghosts,
the neighbors make love against our roof,
its creaking wood a cry
we hear each time we touch,
together alone beneath this sky.
Bruce Snider is the author of three poetry collections: Fruit; Paradise, Indiana; and The Year We Studied Women. With the poet Shara Lessley, he is co-editor of The Poem’s Country: Place and Poetic Practice. He teaches at the University of San Francisco.