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Now Is Tomorrow’s Yesterday
Saxifrage is my flower that splits
the rocks

—William Carlos Williams

I was born 
attentive toward the growth of grasses

We grew like grass through cracks in the concrete   my mother 
once said
of her wartime childhood         sometimes 
we were happy

I tightened the loose and careless knots of my devotion

The city kept changing 
its name 

                     And am I 
ever eventual     as the anticipated aftermath      ever 
the sickness 
                       and the cure 

When did I begin —   
What word

What war—


I tend my garden of turbines, my tornado farm

I wanted to marry
the ghost 

the long held notes and rousing bars 
of the hymn of the republic

But first the filial responsibilities
to keep the ancestors 

fed and watered 

I found them 
nearly forgotten 

where I had left them 

licking the moisture condensing on the cavern walls 

What names 
do the animals have for us 

I wondered


There is no comfort and there is no ease 

Here we are winging the humid emptiness    the day’s endless shallow 

It licks feebly at the shins and barely skims the knees with its chalky silt 

I’m no good at autobiography       I wake up 
and can’t remember what day it is or what city I am in

I’m too embarrassed to ask you to remind me

But I dream about the city    Did my nostalgia to return 
to the singed and scrawled on city of my childhood destroy the city

Which is to say:     did my love 
for the city as it was destroy 
the city as it is


I dream the master tells me:   for poetry 
                                                      you need meter, meaning 
                                                      and lust    

This sounds plausible enough     I am attentive 
to the master    
I write her dictum
                         in my small black notebook

But all the informal pronouns have been discarded    littering the streets    

Held breath         and averted eyes

Trace elements
Handprints         on the trees

And the beloved evaporates—     dew 
                   in the mountain meadow under a blazing alpine sun

The painter paints a horse—then cuts it in half
The human face—I know—was once a sanctuary 

Remind me then: 
                               What day it is    What city I am in


We grew like dandelion weed    clover    saxifrage   
We were an indelible and ineluctable fact    We un-wove ourselves
from the black earth         blew westward 
across the continent ​​    tossed with the flotsam     in the jet stream​​’s draft      
We were      a wailing wind     its indelicate melody​
We were the snags in the weft of your syntax    We mispronounced 
                     our own names     clustered raggedly
too unashamed of our indigence     too boisterous          
​​              Someone said indignantly      You are not 
an indigenous species    but an ineradicable ​    strain ​on the system ​​    
You who have always courted your own        catastrophe        


Was it hurricane season      Was it the clawing rake 
of wind and water against the work of industry 
Was it a fallen tree     the frightened dog trailing its leash whimpering nearby 
The aluminum YIELD     aluminum STOP     rattling and moaning      
The ONE WAY arrow spinning like a weathervane
A shaky hand     calamitous     colloquy 
Was it exhilaration     at a distance closing    between the mighty 
and the All-Mighty     closing     but not entirely 


Genya Turovskaya is the author of The Breathing Body of This Thought (Black Square Editions). A recipient of a 2020 Whiting Award, her poetry has appeared in Bennington ReviewChicago ReviewThe Yale Review and other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.