Advent Poems 3: In a Time of Peace, by Ilya Kaminsky

In a Time of Peace

 

Inhabitant of earth for fortysomething years
I once found myself in a peaceful country. I watch neighbors open

their phones to watch
a cop demanding a man’s driver’s license. When a man reaches for his wallet, the cop
shoots. Into the car window. Shoots.

It is a peaceful country.

We pocket our phones and go.
To the dentist,
to pick up the kids from school,
to buy shampoo
and basil.

Ours is a country in which a boy shot by police lies on the pavement
for hours.

We see in his open mouth
the nakedness
of the whole nation.

We watch. Watch
others watch.

The body of a boy lies on the pavement exactly like the body of a boy–

It is a peaceful country.

And it clips our citizens’ bodies
effortlessly, the way the President’s wife trims her toenails.

All of us
still have to do the hard work of dentist appointments,
of remembering to make
a summer salad: basil, tomatoes, it is a joy, tomatoes, add a little salt.

This is a time of peace.

I do not hear gunshots,
but watch birds splash over the backyards of the suburbs. How bright is the sky
as the avenue spins on its axis.
How bright is the sky (forgive me) how bright.

 

Ilya Kaminsky, from Deaf Republic

5 Comments

  1. Wonderful and devastating. I guess this is about the US..? but I feel increasingly like this in the UK, getting on with my normal life while being aware that people are sleeping on the streets, children are going to school hungry and going to bed cold. Our government’s cruelty is a constant background violence.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. As ailsaholland said, devastating: Exactly. Laying waste, ravaging, desolate. Forgive us for seeing so much beauty and loving our ordinary lives so much in the midst of our unending violence.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to mmwm Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.