by Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach
(After Steven Lee Myers and Alison Smale’s March 2014 The New York Times Article, “Russian Troops Mass at Border with Ukraine”)
Only use familiar turns
of phrase: the crisis
between the Kremlin and the West.
Use quantitative words—excessive,
full-scale, massive, mass—an urgency,
that like a horse or dog, you’ll tame.
Use metaphors of temperature
—erupting, heat, a flash point—
simple hots, like oil or flame,
to echo a cold that never ended.
Build potential gravity like an asteroid’s
pull towards what will burn it
down to dust, the threat of
a deep rupture – impervious
to anger and to breach.
And then discuss the territorial
integrity of this. Interrogate
and pin its body: logical
male nation or hysteria-filled
female boarder. Pin, restrain this
—immutable—then strip it down
to claim you understand
the workings of the land, the place
where river-bones meet
coal-soil skin. Call it
for Ukraine and pretend
omission lacks intent. The article
not present in the Slavic
will go unnoticed, but when
it rises—as all silence must—
and cracks the Dnepr river’s ice,
its howl will wedge between
the blend of air and water:
a heap of fur and frozen blood-bones,
resurfacing, like a litter of kittens
drowned that summer.
Originally published in Crab Orchard Review (Volume 20, Number 2, Summer/Fall 2015).