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A poem by Nicholas Laughlin

Published in The Strange Years of My Life
and previously in Magma 52, Spring 2012

I Discover I Am Russian

I discover I have a Russian heart.
I discover I am a small boy with a heart full of stones,
a bag of stones.
They click like the heartbeat of a clock.
In Russia this is how we sleep,
the small weights of our hearts shifting from left to right,
sliding and clicking as we tumble through the night.

In Russia our livers are carved of petrified wood
and our lungs are stuffed with black moss.
Iciest water climbs and falls in our veins,
salt meeting cold with small electric shivers,
tinkling the wet stones of our hearts.

In Russia when I am in love
my heart crashes terribly against my ribs,
wonderful they do not crack.
In Russia when I am in love
one by one I press the stones of my heart
into a birch-twig sling, but they don’t fly far.

In Russia I walk for ten miles every day
when the sun rises at midnight
over a minor planet of salt.
When the sun rises at noon,
I walk only as far as I can sling a stone.

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Read more poems by Nicholas Laughlin