…and all the host of them.
By Mariya Deykute
We waited for something to happen to us. Moscow glittered like the Snow
Queen’s palace. Wet blubbery things reached through the Kremlin. Parents
traveled with plaid bags large enough to fit us inside, talked in dog whispers.
Fedya heard bums roasting cats. A giant pike pulled Denis into a creek hole.
Sasha’s uncle got a twelve room apartment with a golden toilet and got shot
pissing. We played New Russians. We played Ninja Turtles. We played Indians
vs. Nazis. We played Yeltsin vs. Schwarzenegger. We believed we came from
another world. Middle Earth. Neverland. Tokyo. We believed we had the key
to anything, if we could just find the door. We looked for it between trees,
in closets, on the river bank. We knew what was behind it. Behind the door
seashells rocked, Everest descended into the Mariana trench. The pyramids
imploded, snakes slithered up our arms, robbers and witches fell in throngs,
we won a trip to Disneyland, Las Vegas and Mars simultaneously. We saw
the edges of the universe and the hands of God. His promises rang loud in our
ears. We would prospect diamonds on Venus. We would eat dates out
of coconut shells, the President would pay us to head the first expedition to
the South Pole of Pluto. We would invent our own mathematics, and we would
never have to recite another Pushkin poem in front of the class again. We were
nine and waited. We were ten and waited. We were eleven and waited. We waited
under our covers, in mirrors in the dark, in messages scratched on desks, we
waited in stories, we waited in plans of escape, we waited in pretending we were
adopted, we waited in pretending we were dead, we waited on construction sites,
in front of fires, in flooded basements, with ringworm kittens and knock-off jeans,
with stolen Cosmopolitan and hypnotism, with iodine knees and chicken pox, and
the great machine of the county dismantled itself and belched forward windows,
trapdoors, stairs, while our parents, our little smart town huddled around antennas
receiving messages from stars and pretending t couldn’t hear the noise of the world
falling apart, becoming itself, again.
….will settle there and find herself a resting place.
By Mariya Deykute
I am a nation myself. My national resources: street furniture, IKEA lamps, first stars, fire escape blues, wax ducklings, a seashell, a whiskey bottle, a plan to go back to Russia, jokes about bears, Quincy magnolias, a thousand caskets rotting on schedule. My father’s green eyes, my grandma’s
black hair, potatoes. Potatoes, a major national resource. I share this with Russia. Also, the Cold War, also, perestroika, also, permafrost, the untranslatable words. Recipes of cat stew a la ’90s Moscow bum, my father guarding a warehouse at night, coming home in the morning to tell me
he is afraid of rats and on the radio some guru is so sure we could survive on sunlight. Herring, wild strawberries impaled on grass stems, rye spicas, Spica in constellation Virgo, big things over the horizon, so big they shift the center of gravity as we edge towards them, again. We keep our
eyes on apples, on soccer, on the Shakespearean drama of graffiti on the sixth floor, we edge edge edge, and in a blink we are pressed between pages of Dostoyevsky, all other Russian names forgotten or misspelled, and “home” is not a part of anyone’s inheritance, there is another hydra
in the bog, and home is something that stays as you go, a meteor that burned up in the atmosphere, as you crash to the ground, and memory is the only national resource that has any traction, the only thing I trade it, and even that’s half false, the Scientific American tells me.
By Mariya Deykute
Here is how the Earth is round.
Here are people mining dinosaurs for stories.
I had a sister once. She died. The whole town
wore mourning for three weeks.
Now about the whales. They are inconceivable. We see
their jets off Cape Cod. Harpoons? Blubber? No.
We made mistakes. Look in the history books.
Here are Mongols, Nazis, Eugenics, the whole ghost caboose.
See us run, and run, and stumble, and stop.
We have stopped now.
We have yoga, we breathe in and out, we hold for seven seconds,
we shantih, shantih, shantih. Every child makes friends with a pine.
Every landlord is a forest ranger, they plant maples, rear wolf cubs.
Apartment buildings nest in dense oak, yule, hemlock.
If a person throws a Bud can on the ground, he must wear a scarlet “L”
on his Facebook page. Rats are not poisoned but trained.
Look at the cities we made of sustainable kelp. Use your telepathy.
We are conscious, so conscious. Touch our beautiful thoughts.
Someone told me once, if you convince just one person, the whole world changes.
When I was little, I turned into a seagull. My first words were in a bird language.
I flew from my bed.
By Mariya Deykute
someone is following us.
Listen to this: ‘the Devil Card’ was introduced to the Tarot
pack in the 20th century. Think about it: there was no devil
in any girl’s fate before the 1900s. I wonder if Hana, Liesel,
Ruth drew it, or if it was a different card, a red—
shh, don’t make a sound.
If only they knew the language of trees or could turn
a comb into a forest a mirror into a lake and make pacts
with inanimate objects: “sister cellar, keep us safe
don’t lead us to the grave; brother attic, brother house
make us dust inside your brows, until day breaks
and shadows flee.” Of course, no magic can account for
someone is breathing down my neck.
people. Stop arguing with me. That thing is inside you too
just waiting for the permission to hurt, the right order
of events. Afterwards, the old excuses of wars, elderly
relatives, rot, depression, demonic possession, politics –
something is moving under my skin.
What was the right order of events for Oppenheimer?
The Devil now in all divinations, a knowledge that kills.
I don’t recognize myself anymore.
Jesus, Jung, Mary – don’t you know we are lost – haven’t you
learned from the Holocaust that haemoclaria won’t help
us, or lye-bitten shrines, or temperance or humility?
Haven’t you seen the fat in the gutter, blood on the door hinge,
the logic of the human mind? What? Well, watch us, Tarot. Watch us, Mary,
watch us, gods. We are the only magic left. Watch us invent our own cards.
L’ch Lach, someone is standing at the foot of your bed. Wake up.
Wake up. It’s time, it’s time again. I told them where we live.
Mariya (Morie) Deykute started writing in Puschino, Russia. Since then she’s lived in Montreal, Jerusalem, St. Petersburg and New Mexico, and wrote everywhere to varying success. She is an MFA candidate at UMass: Boston, where she tutors ESL students and teaches memoir workshops at the OLLI Institute. Her poems have appeared in Other Rooms Press, Meat for Tea, Grasslimb, Front Porch, Monarch Review, Inkspill, Amethyst Arsenic and elsewhere.