Poetry for Saturday

Author’s Prayer, Ilya Kaminsky


If I speak for the dead, I must leave
this animal of my body,


I must write the same poem over and over,
for an empty page is the white flag of their surrender.


If I speak for them, I must walk on the edge
of myself, I must live as a blind man


who runs through rooms without
touching the furniture.


Yes, I live. I can cross the streets asking “What year is it?”
I can dance in my sleep and laugh


in front of the mirror.
Even sleep is a prayer, Lord,


I will praise your madness, and
in a language not mine, speak


of music that wakes us, music
in which we move. For whatever I say


is a kind of petition, and the darkest
days must I praise.



And some comfort food, too:

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