Elvira Basevich
Elvira Basevich

The Language of Accidents on the Body

My mother’s signature weathered in a ledger;
the waiting room had thrashed the muscles in her mouth –
it would have been better to fall off a tree; about me a will-o’-the-wisp
hadn’t tasked in the blue halo of the marsh, but freckles of blood,
hot salt and dirt thumbed my navel, a corridor to god.
Afire with life, the tiny falling glass kissing my tendons.
O how the nurses fell in love with my blood temperature!
Can you read in the small of my back the impression of their hands?
The instruments lied neatly on a metal tray,
how they attended to my right hand, prostrated on a paper linen,
and left a mark the shape of a caterpillar, or of a cloudburst,  
a cumulus throbbing against the emptied afterglow of the August sun.
When I open my palm I hope it hurts you a little too.
But your mouth is my favorite accident, after all,
and it now juts into the story of my life with enough force to leave a bruise.

A History of the History of a Race

A metaphor breaks just above your head.
The year starts over again. I fold
water into an envelope addressed to you,
a seaman in Georgia, landlocked in a current of blood.
You cut the pages of weird essences,
and study how skulls talk at night in the floral woods
or fog idles on the bluffs, pressing against jays,
as knobbed and weightless as cotton.
Write to me about American history, the names
you mouthed with the county clerk in the public library.
Line the puffy-eyed distance between the races.
The curtains closed over the emperor and his fat lady
but The Threepenny Opera kept on playing.
A dark glass bead drops into the cotton fields.
A neck breaks under the weight of the coursing Oconee.
The convictions of the dead, illiterate, callused-
footed, droop from your mouth like Spanish moss,
but you hardly speak, indefinitely.
So, here is my fine arabesque of silence, deep in thought,
arched over a presentiment that was,
well, already there –
       These are the pebbles around a Baptist church in Alabama.
       These are our bodies against a poplar tree.