On balconies, sunlight. On poplars, sunlight on our lips.
Today no one is shooting.
A girl cuts her hair with imaginary scissors—
the scissors in sunlight, her hair in sunlight.
Another girl steals a pair of shoes from a sleeping soldier, skewered
As soldier wakes and looks at us looking at them
what do they see?
Tonight they shot fifty women at Lerna St.,
I sit down to write and tell you what I know:
a child learns the world by putting it in her mouth,
a girl becomes a woman and a woman, earth.
Body, they blame you for all things and they
seek in the body what does not live in the body.
“This piece is from a recently completed manuscript, Deaf Republic. In the book, a boy is killed by soldiers breaking up a protest, the gunshot becomes the last thing the citizens hear—all have gone deaf, and their dissent is coordinated by sign language. ‘Firing Squad’ is dedicated to Garth Greenwell.” —Ilya Kaminsky
Ilya Kaminsky is the author ofDancing in Odessa (Tupelo Press, 2004) and Deaf Republic, forthcoming from Graywolf Press in 2019. He is the coeditor of TheEcco Anthology of International Poetry(Ecco, 2010) and teaches at San Diego State University.