I must have always been in the house,
ear pressed to the ground.
Earth smell; catacomb warrens;
Akhmatova fall; God-light on everything.
The Mongols touched this land–
right here, below my temple.
What do we leave in the places we leave
forever, what scraps decay in the roots?
Skeletal, high voltage towers march
carrying lightning between them.
Koschej the Deathless hides among them,
gnaws on his own femur.
I hear armies inverted underground,
still in their helmets.
The tallest surepka grows from their feet,
the sweetest pervotsvet. Even the house
stops its gestures to listen,
secrets folded like heirloom
tablecloths: birds and fish embroidered
over stains, silk delicate at the seams.
What am I but a ghost in its snuffbox?
What am I but a flicker
on the ground, mouth full of spring fir?
From the road, you wouldn’t know a door
was here. Every time I sleep I travel and yet
stay still, surrender the dusk knowing,
the twilight logic. I remember America,
even as it fades: that was a beautiful dream.
I am here now because I fell asleep here, as a child.
My grandfather’s finger reached from the ground
and pressed a fingernail of dirt deep into my ear.
Wherever I go, I only hear his soldiers’ songs,
homeless sounds, time slowing in eddies.
I was always here, even as I thought
I was somewhere else. There is a beard of moss
on the gate, a bird in the eaves. Mongol blood
chokes in restlessness on the flowering linden.
Koschej tans in the trees. Sweetness excuses everything,
sunlight on Lethe. Underground, the dead soldiers
sing in sync with my heart, the wind
a train whistle that learned my name.
Mariya Deykute was born in Russia, raised in Brooklyn and grew up in the UMass:Boston MFA program. She is a poet, performing artist and teacher. Currently, she teachers on the Navajo Reservation and is the founder and curator of the First Fridays reading series in Gallup, NM. History is important to her; as are words; as is our inner and outer wilderness.