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   Jacket 33 — July 2007        link Jacket 33 Contents page        link Jacket Homepage

Katia Kapovich: Two poems

To Whom It May Concern

I thought someone might be interested to know
that on June 6 in the City of Cambridge
at the corner of Central and Hancock
a thief chased by two construction workers
armed with hammers
overturned a bucket of white paint.
Judging by his footprints,
the suspect is a male of short stature
and middle weight.
No evidence whatsoever
of his marital situation or immigration status
has come to light.

The spilled industrial paint
splattered in several directions,
drowning an ant township by the curb
and a dandelion family.
After two hours the paint completely stopped spreading
and stabilized, assuming the shape of nothing,
while at the same time bearing resemblance to
a white elephant, the Alaskan Peninsula,
and a morning bed.
It is still there.

The Seventh String

I reset my language in the fall
like a Saratov guitarist his instrument,
adding the seventh string, D,
for a deeper bass, tuning everything
The characters in my dreams resume their acting
in Russian and the dreams themselves
turn pure black and white,
as if on a reserved cable channel
I’m not even supposed to have,
mistakenly plugged in by the cable man.

From suppressed areas of memory
your six digit number floats up
in both hemispheres, rings out in the middle of the night
as I call you, your gold freckled hand gropes in the air,
pulls the phone by the black cord closer to the bed,
your low voice sings through sleep:

Katia Kapovich

Katia Kapovich is a bilingual poet writing in English and Russian. She is the author of five collections of Russian verse and of a book of English language poetry, Gogol in Rome (Salt, 2004), shortlisted for the Jerwood Alderburgh Prize 2005 in England. Her English poems have also appeared in the London Review of Books, The New Republic, The Independent, Harvard Review, Ploughshares, The American Scholar, The Antioch Review, Jacket, and numerous other periodicals. She received the 2001 Witter Bynner Fellowship from the US Library of Congress. In 2007 she will be Poet-in-Residence at Amherst College. Kapovich lives in Cambridge, MA, where she co-edits Fulcrum: an annual of poetry and aesthetics.