Стихи К. Дэвис на английском языке

Mockingbird II
    How perfectly he has mastered
the car alarm, jangling us from sleep.
    Later his staccato scatters smaller birds
that landed on the wire beside him.
    Perhaps the key to success
is imitation, not originality.
    Once, when the cat slinked up
the orange tree and snatched a hatchling,
    the mockingbird turned on us,
marked us for revenge.
    For two whole weeks he dive bombed
whenever I ventured out the screen door
    lured by his call: first tricked into thinking
the soft coo was a mourning dove courting,
    next drawn by the war cry of a far larger animal.
He swooped from one splintered eave, his mate from the other,
    aiming to peck out my eyes, to wrestle
the baby from my arms, to do God knows what
    with that newborn.
Covering the Mirrors
After a funeral, they were covered with black cloth,
some draped with shawls like a scalloped valance.
Leftover sewing scraps, wool, linen, synthetic,
anything to shroud the odd-shaped mirrors,
though sometimes a corner was exposed like a woman
whose ankle peeks forbidden from under a long skirt.
A mourner must shun vanity during shiva, focusing inward
but as a child I wondered if this were to avoid ghosts,
for don’t the dead take their time leaving?
I’m of a generation where grandparents disappeared,
great aunts with European accents,
rarely an explanation provided to us children.
My mother died too young.
With a baby in arms I couldn’t bear to fling
that dark cloth over the glass.
After all she had come back from the dead so often,
even the doctors could not explain it.
Each time I looked in a mirror my mother gazed back.
I could never tell if she were trying to tell me something
or to take the baby with her.
Animal Time
I do better in animal time,
a creeping dawn, slow ticking toward dusk.
In the middle of the day on the Nebraska prairie,
I’m unnerved by subdued sounds, as if listening
through water, even the high-pitched drone of the
cicadas faint; the blackbirds half-heartedly singing.
As newlyweds, my parents drove cross country to
Death Valley, last leg of their escape from New York,
the thick soups of their immigrant mothers, generations
of superstitions that squeezed them from all sides.
They camped under stars that meant no harm.
It was the silence that alerted them to danger.
They climbed back into their tiny new car, locked
its doors and blinked their eyes until daylight.
Admiral Nimitz
Every day in summer I’d cross the border;
he’d nod, pick up the horseshoes,
hand me one, triple the size
of my palm, and say, You first. We’d play
away the afternoon. Few words
punctuated the clank of horseshoe
against stake, until the fog rolled in
and I’d retrace my steps home.
I was five or six; he, white haired,
however old that meant.
One evening my father sat me down,
spoke in the exaggerated tone
adults adapt for children, asked
if I knew who he was.
Admiral Nimitz, of course, though
I knew nothing of his command
of the Pacific Fleet and was less impressed
than if he’d landed a horseshoe.
He was a calm man, a useful attribute
for sending young men to their deaths.
The only time I saw him upset,
raccoons had invaded from their hideouts
in the hills, attacked the goldfish in his pond,
leaving muddy footprints as they escaped.
As far as I knew, this was his only defeat.


Nothing can brighten this laundromat,

not the fake ivy strung like a clothesline

across its middle, washers on one side,

dryers on the other, nor the framed

jigsaw puzzles under smeared glass.

Germanic villages with steepled churches

and quaint squares tucked sleepily

against the chards of mountains. .

Tiles broken and missing, as if the

floor had hosted dance parties after the doors

were locked, the machines’ lids lowered.

The twirling stilettos wore it down.

In this giant room on the last Sunday of the year

Guatemalan grandmothers with impossibly

long braids stuff their clothes into the machines,

a locked determination on their faces,

one more obstacle to fight.

While their children watch cartoons,

squeezed into tiny apartments, as the men

drag home without finding work.

I look around, tall in contrast to the other women.

The washers and dryers chatter noisily,

firing up, shaking their hips, flinging wide their mouths.

Oh the stories they could tell,

if only someone would stop to listen.

The Woman Afraid of Buttons

and why not,

when I back away from the elevator,

convinced its open mouth

is waiting to bite me?

Perhaps as a baby

her mother shook her three times,

until her organs shifted in their pockets

her mother’s voice ascending

a ladder of panic, the kitchen air slivered

as the infant turned blue.

Now we happen upon one another.

My blouse with its triplets of buttons,

the kind a Victorian lover would stumble over

on the road to the forbidden.

I never noticed her clothes buttonless,

only the oversized earrings gaudy as a shout,

how her body shrinks beneath them. .

Staring, she shudders as she greets me,

turns away. I follow her gaze out into the street

up to the drawer of the sky that darkens

as buttons of hail clatter to the sidewalk.



A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Call it morning glory, convolvulus arvenis,

and people smile, thinking of purple suns strung across a field.

Standing on my back stairs this summer morning ,

I am filled with hate toward this choking vine that can live 20 years.

John Dunmire, expert gardener, cautions that bindweed

can send up 1,000 plants in a flower bed,

squatters invading a vegetable garden.

I am in such a fight for life as this noxious vine

strangles my rose bushes, Australian myrtle, the fuchsias.

It loops across the lawn to bind its phylacteries

around the branches of the orange tree.

For months I wrestle the bindweed, pull its tentacles,

smother its outbursts, starve its roots.

I scream curses enough to scare the gods,

(as well as the neighbors), but the plant twists tighter.

And though I fed my children only on the breast,

I dream of herbicides to poison the bindweed’s tissue,

brown streaks snaking up its limbs like tetanus.

Its torso shriveling to a gnarled pit.

Let the woody stems be coated, the leafy greens

glimmer with glyphosate. I’ll brush on triclopyr,

paint the offshoots with dicamba, leave voodoo dolls at its feet.

Make the bindweed suffer until it pleads with me

to die and be done with it.


The soup years

Although it is early

with only the garbage truck awake,

its empty stomach growling

from down the alley,

the heat already presses on the city

like the weight my mother used

to flatten chicken breasts.

Her bony hands (fingers impossibly long

and too fragile for strength)

pounded and flayed that pink flesh,

stretching half a pound of meat into a meal for four.

Those were the soup years of my childhood

pots of hot borsch we were ordered to finish

even mid-August, down to the orphaned

bay leaf at the bottom.

And the golubtsi – little pigeons –

with cabbage leaf wings wrapped

around a bland, tomato-rice filling.

Later she shed the much-stewed vegetables

of the immigrant kitchen, for raw ones, full

of snap and color. She embraced this

new cooking with the allegiance

of the converted, for in America

food fills more than the stomach.

Then she stopped yelling in Yiddish

when I spilled my milk for the third time in a week.


Between Storms

My clunker car inches along

like the tail of a rattler trying

to whip up its fury.

Ahead of me an orange jeep, a copperhead sunning.

A sweep of clouds darkens the sky.

On either side of the traffic

the canyon walls are growing.

The heavens could open now,

lightning bounce from the cheekbones of rocks.

Scrub acorns sprout from the hillsides,

its stubble of beard sways unsteadily.

I did not believe I could bring back the dead,

though now they slide on to the back seat

as I round a sharp corner.

My brother shifts in the bones of his teenage body,

gazes out the window ignoring the conversation.

My mother in matching pumps and purse,

face bright before the illness that took away its color.

My father leans forward, cautions me to slow down.

A red tailed hawk loops and dips above.

It urges me to follow closely.

The road widens.


This Month in Michigan

It is not enough to say there was a before and after

Call it exile,

off a rural road named Main, on the edge

of a small lake that chants all night.

At the Dollar Store an empty-handed girl waits

behind me in line, finally blurting: Are you hiring?

She’s too young for such a hardened stare,

even with lids half-closed turquoise petals.

The GM factory up Highway 91 out on strike again.

By the roadside the line workers’ placards wobble like loose teeth.

This winter harsh enough to shred barns.

Come spring the rivers will swell till they topple their banks.

Still it’s Michigan where I seek refuge, perhaps optimistic

as those who plant before the last freeze.

An act of faith, as surely as the photos taped to the cash register;

amulets to protect the town’s boys from harm in Iraq.

There is so much that threatens an early bloom:

neglect, disease, the before and the after.


Eating Crow

Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye,

Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,

The steer’s head displayed like

crown jewels on the butcher table,

put me off meat that year in Russia,

but no more than the intestines

ladled into a pond of broth

On tv a the food show host leans over

a rickety market stall in Bangkok.

He picks at the toothpick bones of a sparrow,

licks his lips and reaches for a second bird,

its skeleton the size of his palm.

A cook to a medieval knight placed

live birds inside a pastry crust.

A great joke, though the real pie was served

after the birds had been released.

Is that how we got the four and twenty blackbirds

whose heads pop through a blanket of pie crust?

Beaks wide to sing their hearts out,

though they are cooked through and through.

In the Middle Ages pea-fowl was required

on any table worth its weight.

These birds wore a mantel of herbs,

green as a king’s velvet collar.

I succumb to the occasional hamburger dripping with juice.

Still I wanted to rescue those little birds

from their pinched cages before

they met their deaths in a bath of oil.

To take the fingers of the food show host,

smack them away, before he licked them clean.



We are all intruders here

though we fool ourselves this late winter day,

carving a place on the banks

to anchor our heels.

We stretch over the water, hoping

to slip onto the wings of a Great Blue Heron

but afraid to get caught in the trap of reeds, twisting

in the foul water.

The marsh ignites: will а wisps,

sprites, a wisp of flames,

torches held aloft by villagers

marching on the manor.

We’ve read too many fairytales

but this much is true:

I heard voices.

Not the call of a willet or clapper rail

but a child caught beneath the ceiling of water

the thin reed of its voice

rising in the brackish light.



for Antoinette

Calm down.

That the moon has always hung

by a thread expecting to be snipped

is a given. Your daughter

will call when she is ready.

There is no need for hysteria.

A beach ball held under water

will always shoot into the crackling air.

No one can stop it.

While you wait, feed the plumeria,

even if its awning is bolted shut for the winter.

You’ve got to believe in something.

You could do worse than to have faith

in the unfurling of petals.


Bleak with Trees


What would you have bid on, if you could?

An antler wine rack waiting to be reunited with its head?

The cane with a bone handle carved by an old ranch hand?

Or the divining rod that for years has failed to find

water in this remote Wyoming valley?


My friend hauled out a heat lamp each October

the two years she lived in a farmhouse in Maine.

She stretched out on her couch practicing for the coffin.

Phone calls from friends could not protect her from the dark

but the coils of heat and burning light rescued her.


This morning, scraps of snow, the hillside a cowboy’s

cheek with a scruffy beard of silver sagebrush.

His shaving hand no longer trustworthy, the razor’s path

on his chin traces the geography of the moon with

patches of dark stubble rising from it.


If I could choose any location, I’d take bleak with trees,

silhouetted mountains, a gulley for porcupines.

This high desert with its sumac and bitterbrush scares me.

Nowhere to hide; just look up Hwy. 14 at Crazy Shirley’s

with her four shacks, three horses and too many cars to count.


I’ve made mistakes, run away repeatedly in another language.

For years I’ve pushed in vain against solid doors.

Maybe those first months confined to an incubator launched me

on the wrong path; now I’d choose shadow over those lights.

A prairie view, my salvation.