Eleanor Wilner
"Entering the Labyrinth," an essay on the persona poem.

Eleanor Wilner
Four persona poems: Minos, Ariadne, Daedalus, and The Minotaur.


This marks an author's first online publication Michelle Boisseau

This marks an author's first online publication Annie Boutelle
Christine Casson
This marks an author's first online publication Carolyn Creedon
Claudia Emerson
Daisy Fried
Diane Gilliam
Shadab Zeest Hashmi
Kathleen Jesme
Ilya Kaminsky
Marilyn Krysl
David Lee
Gary Copeland Lilley
Maurice Manning
Alicia Ostriker
Alicia Jo Rabins
Tim Seibles
This marks an author's first online publication Heidy Steidlmayer
Book Review
"Tourist in Hell" by Eleanor Wilner—Book Review, by David Rigsbee.

Ilya Kaminsky

Ilya Kaminsky is the author of Dancing In Odessa (Tupelo, 2004). He lives and teaches in San Diego.

Sonya's Mother    

—from Deaf Republic

[before she died, months ago, Mother became deaf. She asked me to sit at the piano and play, as loudly as possible, the entire repertoire of Chopin. And while I played (the child inside me straightened her knee), Mother got on her hands and knees and bit into the piano's wood.]


              (Her Mother's Pianos)                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Whispering at night, I think I hear
my mother's voice: did I turn off the stove? No, not this,

but Did you plant the tulips over my grave?
No, not this—my Sonya

you are pregnant, daughter? Sonya!
my mother laughs, clever as a child.

I say "my mother" and again "my moth—"
but she is weeping in the orchestra.

as they play Chopin: as the music bends
to her left, to her right. "Sonya—

On the day of my death I will be playing piano," she smiled.
Mother did not play the piano—

there was no piano, no piano—but I thought I saw
hundreds of old pianos forming

a bridge over the waters from Batnaystan to Alehia—and she sat at
each piano—she did not play, she simply sat. The wind in

her hair. Drops of water in her hair. Her hair in her mouth.


They say so much sky in her chest addicted her.
They claim, with inappropriate laughter, she requested

to be locked in a bird house, refusing to believe in silence
Mother went to Opera with chickens in her pockets.

Nurses in blue skirts run in pigeon shit and snow—
where is our bed in her hospital?

Only three of us know.
She bites a hole in the apple and in that hole

I pour a shot of vodka.
We drink from the apple in turn, to our health.

A government musician—just before her death—Mother

I will become a government musician
whispering: Better one of them should

die than one of us—
she sets off for the beach, on foot, a good mile

and a half of wind,
a vodka glass in her pockets, and when the bottle is empty

she drops her striped dress and walks, her mouth open, into the sea.
          in the chill and iron heart of cobblestone street every woman I meet

comes forth to kiss my face.
Every mother buried just east of town, an honest place

to drown, quiet homegrown bodies
lie down. Under this earth, she is no less blessed.

Those still alive must raise their hands.
Boatswain, I am your daughter! I let this water

fill my lungs' whisper: boatswain, I am your pregnant daughter.



© 2010 The Cortland Review