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Cities and Desire

26 May

by Elmira Oktayevna Elvazova


I like the way you leave me.

After the rain.

The way you came in.

I like watching you leave me.

It reminds me of desire.

The way you came in.

If you’re leaving you should stay

to watch the way I leave you.

We can go on this way

for years.

We will be old.

And it will be the last time.


When you came in from the rain

you brought the rain in

and I thought:

I’ll make it mean something.

I’ll stay.

No I won’t.

You know me.

You know me and you know I won’t.

Still, I’ll love a city.

I’ll love any city that will have me.

We went downtown in the rain.


And it brought me to you.


A Raid

17 Dec

Elmira Oktayevna Elvazova

The marks of horseshoes that have passed this way
how many times
will you open your door to a thief?

Soldiers and horses under the little trees
that line the collina

It’s been raining to stop you
beneath the umbrella of black boughs
with punctures in it

That I can see you is something else
not a crime, more like
the generosity of the sun

This is someone’s home
This is the home we all trespass
and the bloated face of the field that drinks the water

and the roof sinking from the pressure
of gray wings

Every intruder must leave a trace, or a broken vase
of flowers
yesterday’s old love

I should say war

Who will recognize me here?
under the sky and the dark clang of horseshoes

Recognize me
until I leave this place
having plundered what I could

Prairie Landscape, Missouri

22 Oct

by Elmira Oktayevna Elvazova

There is a wide green distance
 that leads me to you.

It’s another day in spring.
 Light stuns the field.

I am trying to forget myself.
 You are helping.

The prairie chicken hustles—
 Feathers any way she wants.

She cannot know how beautiful she is
 And invaluable. Say that she did:

How would it change
 the nature of the landscape?

I think it would make
 the greatest difference we have known.

What am I to do
 if this is the air I breathe?

And know it.
 And not with timidity.

With a certain exultation
 that sings.

Standing in the open field—
 My voice travels distances.

Nobody knows where it stops.
 This is to say if I come home to you

I will rebound again like a certain band of light.
 To want not to know where I land

is an echo, or a function of myself.
I am inclined to keep it.

Blue Leaves

24 Sep

by Elmira Oktayevna Elvazova


It’s nearly autumn,

with leaves that swirl about,

the glistening raspberry bushes soaked in rain



the fig trees we planted surrender their stems

something triumphs


Stitches in the grass rip open,

those tiny slabs of green material


Where is everyone looking?

there’s so much to see when the garment falls off

like the bare, white skin of the Earth


In any case, the neighborhood smells of baked apple-pies

It’s like living in sin

and the pumpkins bloom


You are carving a path along the lake

among the bright conifers


A green light goes on for the 1,000 migrating geese

parked by the water


I am looking at the traffic, hoping

a lane opens up

above the hills


I lament it is not my job

To invite the sun to come out

from hiding and shine onto these wet leaves


All Kinds of Snow

17 Sep

by Elmira Oktayevna Elvazova


The light goes into the next room.

All of a sudden the years have turned into recollections.


As a child you remember parachuting off the kitchen table.

Your free-fall lasted all through dinner


That was a rude spattering of peas and bickering parents.

Everything slows down in darkness, except what doesn’t.


There are whole cities dedicated to staying awake forever.

It’s like an alchemy.


In the night-hollows of the forest something is feeding on the air.

We too were born out of darkness


To learn the words for rain.

I have to tell my best friend everything will be okay.


She is always seeing plexers.

It is not difficult to accomplish anything with this life.


A pinwheel.

To drape a curtain over an open window is to expect it to get going.


Spinning, in any kind of wind, in all kinds of snow.

By this you will have accomplished something then you’ll know


That now you are free to dive off the cliffs of your choosing,

In the summer hours, from the heights of your daring,


Resolved in the water. 


Clearing the Table

3 Sep

by Elmira Oktayevna Elvazova


Sunset, the light

stirs its colors.

A flush of cheeks.


From the kitchen,

you hear the clatter of dishes.

Spoons circle the sky.


At the bottom of the pot,

you scrap out the last serving.

It is your intention to lap it up. Every morsel.


This mercury.  This feldspar stuff in the trees.


Someone is clearing the table.

The pots and pans are being rinsed, placed upside down in their places.


Outside your window,

The rain comes which you have always called the rain.

The earth washes itself clean.

You don’t know what else to call it.


All day you have tried to fill the space of a void.


How many lamp lights are coming on?

Out there and

Between the steps from your house to mine.


Winter Trees

16 Jul

Elmira Oktayevna Elvazova


We sit on the porch

our faces lit by the white trees


Not so long ago the light,

like a fisherman,

casting black shadows into the cold


The day spent watching the snow

making something of itself


It goes on making


We make angels in the snow,

like an excuse not to go into church


We don’t pray under a closed sky

And we play


Like this all day until the day is spent

until the porch is lit by the white trees


In the winter I want to say- I’m snowing

can I be the storm that keeps us inside?


I want to keep you from going

as my life’s work


Summer Yards

25 Jun

by Elmira Oktayevna Elvazova


A flowerpot filled with red flowers

just beside it: a mailbox, not even shuffling, not even to budge

not even swaying into the spider nets on the lawn

I want to tell it it upsets the breeze, standing just like that

standing still just like that

and almost everyday the flowers turn

disappointed, thinking

the letters are for them and

I can see their hope

it is like a telephone ringing

–‘It is not even alive,’ they tell me, ‘and I am waiting on a letter from California

where the white azaleas are coming into bloom, looking for a pen’– 

but the mailbox always gets the letters and I have to tell the flowers

not to be so sad that the letters

are not addressed directly to it but to my funny name and also one Spring I waited a long time for words that never came

not even through the phone

I explained it was a lot like losing hope

but now I love a man as handsome as the flowers in Morocco

and this made them blush I think and it did console them I think, if only for the day

and so I wouldn’t find them with their faces in the dirt I told a story

I said there was a letter marked to a tree once, to an ‘Elm Tree,’ and I kept the note forever

–‘Dear Elm,

I pulled a bee out of my hair today

I fell asleep under the stars

write to me through the woodwinds…’–

and then one day the azalea letters came, and the bluebells wrote to us, and the wild daffodils spoke up

and we were happy and somewhere the corn ripened, shaking off its coat


While out here in the garden

it is a Tuesday afternoon

the hedge-clippers lie on the lawn

the grass goes untrimmed

the grass unhedged

my dog is chasing butterflies again

between now and five days from now I will have fallen in love over a dozen times with the way the wind pushes the butterfly in the air

just a fraction out of reach of his paw

teasing in the light

and tomorrow a black crow will fly into the trees

like it came from the west

bringing the rains with it and one day I will leave this house

go into the bright forest

into a room of no address

and the white letters will pile up

like  snow in the morning

on the cottage

in the painting of a lighthouse

I read a book by a lighthouse one summer

and all I read and all I saw were big waves, big waves, big waves

for pages

then I jumped in the water

and the water wasn’t even wild



Ritorno al mare

11 Jun

by Elmira Oktayevna Elvazova


I throw myself quietly into the field


We have walked all season,

waiting for the wild poppies to grow


In the landscape,

rumorous with birdsong, I must think–


‘Look! A red lake, where the water reaches my knees

The flower fields like an old mirror, and the tall matchsticks set themselves aflame’


I come back to you, you who are still waiting by the road’s edge,

watch the cars pass, head North into Rome


To the Spanish steps and the famed fountains, the fat, marble-headed statues, and the penny sparkle. The love padlocks along the bridge Ponte.


We have been on both sides, but your heart is ever in the city

Mine is in the olive groves–


The wind too, is full of thought, and heart. It must be a great mind that sustains itself,


turns the windmills in its thoughtfulness.

High on one side, it moves me,


How the sea, after all, with its white caps and bonnets,

holds no flowers


But the mind thinks it so

When night falls the room turns black, quiet


Everything delivers


Spring into Summer

21 May

Elmira Oktayevna Elvazova


Late May. Spring finds a knob.

In the mid-morning gust, I hear a door slam shut.

And the rain without water.

Pouring from the branches,

leaves drop in the yard.

Everything blossoms.

I would like to see everything as it happens.

I would be like a fox.

My eyes

watching the woods.

I would see the sky

and not think blue,

and not think love.

Eating the wild berries.


You left to watch the sunset,

a rolled cigarette between your fingers.

You wanted to come clean, you said,

like the fox from our favorite painting.

Leaving me alone.


My favorite painting is actually of a river.

In it I am watching from the woods,

seeing the water.


You are not there and the day is ordinary.

I do not even want to live in it forever.



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