Our country is the stage.
When soldiers march into town, public assemblies are officially prohibited. But today, neighbors flock to the piano music from Sonya and Alfonso’s puppet show in Central Square. Some of us have climbed up into trees, others hide behind benches and telegraph poles.
When Petya, the deaf boy in the front row, sneezes, the sergeant puppet collapses, shrieking. He stands up again, snorts, shakes his fist at the laughing audience.
An army jeep swerves into the square, disgorging its own Sergeant.
Disperse immediately! the puppet mimics in a wooden falsetto.
Everyone freezes except Petya, who keeps giggling. Someone claps a hand over his mouth. The Sergeant turns toward the boy, raising his finger.
You! the puppet raises a finger.
Sonya watches her puppet, the puppet watches the Sergeant, the Sergeant watches Sonya and Alfonso, but the rest of us watch Petya lean back, gather all the spit in his throat, and launch it at the Sergeant.
The sound we do not hear lifts the gulls off the water.
From Deaf Republic. Copyright © 2019 by Ilya Kaminsky. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Graywolf Press.
Born in Odessa, Ukraine, in 1977, Ilya Kaminsky is the author of Deaf Republic (Graywolf Press, 2019).
Date Published: 2019-03-05
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/gunshot