At the Hairdresser's
She cuts my hair, her man is a professional boxer.
She plans their weekends, he brings home fight money.
She’d like to make dinner once a week only
And freeze the leftovers.
She no longer knows why she’d come to this country
Nor how they’ll manage with kids.
They’ll be going back to Ireland, she lets on,
To reclaim their couplehood, I gather,
What with less work, less hassle, fewer dreams
Of the American sort.
In her present life, she does a good job.
She isn’t nosy. She’s found a noble word
For my hair color. “Auburn,” she likes to say,
Curling a stray.
In Third Person
a haze a heron in a tide-pool
and for a long time out of time
two children push a giant yellow globe
coyotes come and every June the same
the unrequited loneliness the same
out-of-tune expressions herons dance
the same blue wings
it all made sense
the way he asked me for the Book of Job
to make some pattern make some rhyme
out of his life before he die
the way he scrutinized his patterned robe
when he did die it's simply that he sensed
there was no more to do no other dance
to be composed no present tense
For Fear of Ruining Your Life
For fear of ruining your life, or ruining you, or mine,
I stuff myself into a bottle like a bad genie.
Yet, since hope is an expansion, it will be unconfined.
This glass the color of jade is crackling and cracking.
The jailer is bladed. The genie is panicking.
Through each new fracture—a delicate beaming.
Maria Gapotchenko came to the United States from Russia in 1993. The themes of her writing seminars at Boston University are friendship and Russian literature. She has recently experimented with a course on poetry in translation for multilingual students, and hopes next to design a course on the politics of translation.
<< Back to Issue 15, 2012