The bright bulb of my conscience shines
through the cage wrought of black arabesques,
casts intricate shadows of imagination.
If nothing else, I cherish light-and-shade ornaments
on the walls of my confinement, memories of things
I haven’t seen: honeycomb ceilings of Alhambra,
Moorish oranges, pomegranates — sophisticated
pre-Crusade irrigation, soft-spoken fountains, and
medrese youth learned in Averroes’s annotations.
God is the apogee of knowledge.
Angel said, “Read!” to an illiterate prophet. So
said califs of Madīnat al-Zahrā to their peasants.
My lover, you left me in the graphite-tinted veil
to re-read your letters censored by crafty calligraphers,
to admire your temple a woman can’t enter.
A birdless cage forged with cast-iron foliage
casts arabesque shadows in my windowless room
where I send you my brightest lonely light.
All my prayers are ghazals about separation
and lost astrolabes. Black salt of night — tears --
conduct electricity like a circuit with seawater.
My wave smashes its crest against your cliff,
but rises again — returns as love always does.
Until 2007 Elina lived in Ukraine and worked in engineering management. Elina published one poetry book in Russian and two poetry books in English: Aching Miracle (2015) and Desert Candles (2019). Elina’s poems have appeared in Chicago Quarterly Review, Texas Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Porter House Review, Southwestern American Literature, Texas Poetry Calendars, FreeFall (Canada), Ocotillo Review, Melancholy Hyperbole, Poetry of the American Southwest series and many other anthologies. A frequent Pushcart Prize nominee, Elina was a finalist for the post of Houston Poet Laureate in 2015 and Austin International Poetry Fest's Featured Poet in 2019. She received second place honours in the 2020 national contest of Public Poetry.
The Ekphrastic Review
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