Our country is the stage.
When soldiers march into town, public assemblies are officially prohibited. But
today, neighbors flock to the piano music from Sonya and Alfonso’s puppet show in
Central Square. Some of us have climbed up into trees, others hide behind benches
and telegraph poles.
When Petya, the deaf boy in the front row, sneezes, the sergeant puppet col-
lapses, shrieking. He stands up again, snorts, shakes his fist at the laughing audience.
An army jeep swerves into the square, disgorging its own Sergeant.
Disperse immediately!
Disperse immediately! the puppet mimics in a wooden falsetto.
Everyone freezes except Petya, who keeps giggling. Someone claps a hand over
his mouth. The Sergeant turns toward the boy, raising his finger.
You! the puppet raises a finger.
Sonya watches her puppet, the puppet watches the Sergeant, the Sergeant
watches Sonya and Alfonso, but the rest of us watch Petya lean back, gather all the
spit in his throat, and launch it at the Sergeant.

The sound we do not hear lifts the gulls off the water.

About Author

Ilya Kaminsky
Ilya Kaminsky was born in the former Soviet Union and is now an American citizen. He is the author of a previous poetry collection, Dancing in Odessa, and coeditor of The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry. He has received a Whiting Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was named a finalist for the Neustadt International Prize for Literature. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages.

Editor's Notes

'Gunshot' is taken from Ilya Kaminsky's new collection of poems, Deaf Republic.