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Author’s Prayer

If I speak for the dead, I must leave
this animal of my body,

I must write the same poem over and over,
for an empty page is the white flag of their surrender.

If I speak for them, I must walk on the edge of myself, I must live as a blind man

who runs through rooms without touching the furniture.
Yes, I live. I can cross the streets asking “What year is it?” I can dance in my sleep and laugh
in front of the mirror.
Even sleep is a prayer, Lord,
I will praise your madness, and in a language not mine, speak
of music that wakes us, music
in which we move. For whatever I say
is a kind of petition, and the darkest days must I praise.

Author’s Prayer by Ilya Kaminsky | Poetry Foundation
Source: Dancing in Odessa (Tupelo Press, 2004)


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