"Orevichi" and "Mirrors" by Clyde Kessler
A stork owns this village.
It glides across an empty road,
and its cold wing shadows flutter
through the pavement and potholes.
There are wolf tracks in the mud.
There is a scribble lark peering
over one broken roof. It sings all day,
as if sanctified above the wolves.
Here’s where we remember
Chernobyl’s exclusion zone mapped
past heaven. A blue hollyhock at sunset
is still blooming against the sky.
I gather pine cones at sunset
from this hungry ground, from
Papa’s hedge where the thrushes
offer whisper songs to their eggs.
I still wish I were their hatchling.
These words have pulled my nerves
from pine needles. I am still laughing
like a tree after a meltdown, after
the news of another war has drowned
itself in every April water drop.
Every war waits like empty nests
in the fuselage of a monstrous aircraft,
in the blind wings of a thunderhead
calloused against the stars. Tonight
I grin at the mirrors in Orevichi,
all of them reflecting nobody home.
Clyde Kessler lives in Radford, Virginia, with his wife, Kendall, and their son, Alan. Several years ago, they added an art studio to their house and named it Towhee Hill. In 2017, Cedar Creek published Clyde's book Fiddling At Midnight's Farmhouse, which Kendall illustrated.
Headshot: Kendall F. Kessler
Photo Credit: Staff