Katia Kapovich

Three Poems

*   *   *   
In March, on the right side of the hill
someone's flying a kite on a string.
On the left, that's me standing still,
looking like I don't care a thing.

But, as the kite soars higher, I recall
icicles dripping in the sun-washed air,
snowdrops chilling in their underwear,
and the sky's astounding watercolor!

Wish we'd let our grief dissolve forever
up in something quite as blue as this
and return to childhood's promises
in no more than half an hour.

*   *   *   
The rolling meadows silvered at the hem,
autumnal riverbanks constrained by winter's rime,
but I did not have time to stand and stare at them:
perhaps another time, I muttered at the time,
I'll tell of how I found the snowed-in railway station
while overhead the geese flew honking in the real,
crossing the ashen sky in a wedge-like formation...
So there we go, eight lines. And what was the big deal?


On a ravelin of the St. Peter and St. Paul Fort,
his convict cell is drafty, almost windy.
All night, he is making up his mind
as to the proper length of one minute,
which we watches ebb second by second.
Listening to the footfalls of a guard
behind the locked cell door until morning,
he insists on a miracle, mad at God,
and God alone knows just what thinking
will pour into his notebook by break of dawn,
screaming, someone must still have faith in man,
call him "my good fellow," light his cigarette,
shake the dirt off his threadbare coat.

KATIA KAPOVICH is the author of seven Russian collections and of two volumes of English verse, Gogol in Rome (Salt, 2004, shortlisted for England’s 2005 Jerwood Alderburgh Prize) and Cossacks and Bandits (Salt, 2008). Her English language poetry has appeared in the London Review of Books, Poetry, The New Republic, Harvard Review, The Independent, Jacket, and numerous other periodicals, as well as in several anthologies including Best American Poetry 2007 and Poetry 180 (Random House). The recipient of the 2001 Witter Bynner Fellowship from the U.S. Library of Congress, and a poet-in-residence at Amherst College in 2007, Kapovich lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she teaches literary courses at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education and co-edits Fulcrum. She is the recipient of a 2013 Russian Prize.