We Lived Happily During the War
by Ilya Kaminsky
And when they bombed other people’s houses, we
but not enough, we opposed them but not
enough. I was
in my bed, around my bed America
was falling: invisible house by invisible house by invisible house.
I took a chair outside and watched the sun.
In the sixth month
of a disastrous reign in the house of money
in the street of money in the city of money in the country of money,
our great country of money, we (forgive us)
lived happily during the war.
© Ilya Kaminsky, from Deaf Republic, (Faber, 2019)
credit: Adrian Pope
Ilya Kaminsky (b. 1977, Odessa) has described how, ‘for a refugee, there is a beauty in falling in love with a language’. His first poems were written in Russia; after his family emigrated to the USA in 1993, Kaminsky chose English because ‘no one in my family or friends knew it – no-one I spoke to could read what I wrote. It was a parallel reality, an insanely beautiful freedom. It still is.’