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A Toast

Ilya Kaminsky
Ilya Kaminsky
  • To your voice, a mysterious virtue,
  • to the 53 bones of one foot, the four dimensions of breathing
  • to pine, redwood, sworn-fern, peppermint,
  • to hyacinth and bluebell lily.
  • to the train conductor’s donkey on a rope,
  • to smells of lemons, a boy pissing splendidly against the trees.
  • Bless each thing on earth until it sickens,
  • until each ungovernable heart admits: “I confused myself
  • and yet I loved — and what I loved
  • I forgot, what I forgot brought glory to my travels,
  • to you I traveled as close as I dared, Lord.

Ilya Kaminsky was born in Odessa, Ukraine, and came to the United States in 1993 when his family was granted asylum by the U.S. government. He is the author of Dancing in Odessa (Tupelo Press), which has been translated into several languages and which won the American Academy of Arts and Letters Metcalf Award, a Whiting Writers Award, a Lannan Foundation Grant, and other honors. With Susan Harris, Kaminsky co-edited The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry, an anthology of world poetry, published by Ecco Books in 2010. “A Toast” is taken from Weddings Before the War, published by Fivehundred Places (fivehundredplaces.com) in 2012. The poem is part of a book-length sequence of poems, “Deaf Republic,” which Kaminsky is currently completing. He teaches in the MFA program for writers at San Diego State University. The poem is published with permission.

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Ilya Kaminsky
Ilya Kaminsky
  • To your voice, a mysterious virtue,
  • to the 53 bones of one foot, the four dimensions of breathing
  • to pine, redwood, sworn-fern, peppermint,
  • to hyacinth and bluebell lily.
  • to the train conductor’s donkey on a rope,
  • to smells of lemons, a boy pissing splendidly against the trees.
  • Bless each thing on earth until it sickens,
  • until each ungovernable heart admits: “I confused myself
  • and yet I loved — and what I loved
  • I forgot, what I forgot brought glory to my travels,
  • to you I traveled as close as I dared, Lord.

Ilya Kaminsky was born in Odessa, Ukraine, and came to the United States in 1993 when his family was granted asylum by the U.S. government. He is the author of Dancing in Odessa (Tupelo Press), which has been translated into several languages and which won the American Academy of Arts and Letters Metcalf Award, a Whiting Writers Award, a Lannan Foundation Grant, and other honors. With Susan Harris, Kaminsky co-edited The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry, an anthology of world poetry, published by Ecco Books in 2010. “A Toast” is taken from Weddings Before the War, published by Fivehundred Places (fivehundredplaces.com) in 2012. The poem is part of a book-length sequence of poems, “Deaf Republic,” which Kaminsky is currently completing. He teaches in the MFA program for writers at San Diego State University. The poem is published with permission.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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