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By Marina Brown

The State speaks


Our rocket launchers carry girls’

names, diminutives. They crouch 


across the borderland, nestled

in groves of fir and birch and willow.


Our fields are sown with marrow.

We name our babies Faith, Love,


Light, and Resurrection. Our men like

gripping concepts in their hands.


On reaching orbit, we file down

Luna’s cold edges. Nearly


the season now for culling

the limbs of cherry orchards,


for opening canopies and sparing

idle offshoots.


We snatch Tereshkova from the Volga,

thrust her up inside a capsule egg.


I see the horizon, she whispers back.

Sky-blue. a dark strip.


Seagull, we call her. The only woman

to have gone so far


alone. She tumbles down

in sleeves like stork’s wings


to be fed and clothed by the people

of a fogbound village.


They turn her back from

silver gleam to earth. Cover her


in wreaths of layered flowers,

spears of wheat in gentle folds.


But our artists keep indoors,

their blue hands glossing


winter battles. They peer up

at us with the rest of the body


politic. Mothers flock,

clutching scraps of metal,


to argue over imports –

dried fruit, thin books, denim –


as in your mirror steep

the farmer’s and the merchant’s


hooded eyes. Small vessels

yaw under anvil clouds


as we contort to pick up

English, our form become nuclear



scheming with germ.


Abroad, will you read how – secretly –

we still float candles


down tributaries for their ancient omen,

igniting trees along the water’s edge


for fear of sirens.

For fear of vanishment.


When the iris buds break open,

we bullet through the world’s array.

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