If there is something of the sky in us
—in response to Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic
I want to rival the strongest
jet stream. I want to
float planes, those metallic beasts
of possibility, toward whatever
horizon. I want to cup
the bodies of birds and not worry
if my touch will mar their birdness,
spread something of the human in me
to their bones, begin
the slow collapse
of their colonies. I’d rather
spread seeds, be
a whisper in millions of leafy
languages. Even if I
cycloned, I’d pirouette the bodies I’d touch
as if in dance and not destruction.
I’d scale the highest peak, bottle that purer
ozone, push it down past
thickening layers of smog.
What else should I do? I’m saying
I would do it all—I would put in
the effort. I would try to kiss everyone.
"This poem responds to a line from Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic and imagines a speaker who would like to respond to the violence present in the world any using love and kindness as a corrective. Of course only being nice won’t fix the world’s problems, but sometimes I have to remind myself that I need to imagine possibility of change instead of just lamenting what is horrible—if I can’t imagine change, I won’t be inspired to make change.”
Matthew W. Baker currently lives in Reno, NV and teaches middle and high school English. He received his MFA from the University of Nevada, Reno. His work has appeared or will appear in The Summerset Review, The Matador Review, Booth Journal, Sundog Lit, Yemassee Journal, The Meadow, among others. His debut chapbook, Undoing the Hide’s Taut Musculature, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Follow him on Twitter @mmbakes.