[ultimate_heading main_heading=”Dzvinia Orlowsky *Featured Poet* – Issue.XXIII : December 2016 ” main_heading_color=”#1e73be” sub_heading_color=”#8224e3″ spacer=”line_with_icon” spacer_position=”bottom” line_style=”dotted” line_height=”1″ line_color=”#1e73be” icon_type=”custom” icon_img=”id^48|url^http://ashvamegh.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Ashvamegh-ICO.jpg|caption^null|alt^Ashvamegh Journal Icon|title^Ashvamegh ICO|description^null” img_width=”48″ main_heading_style=”font-weight:bold;” main_heading_font_size=”desktop:34px;” line_width=”3″]an experienced voice from the words…[/ultimate_heading]
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Dzvinia Orlowsky is a poet and translator. She is the author of five collections of poetry published by Carnegie Mellon University Press including A Handful of Bees, reprinted in 2009 as a Carnegie Mellon Classic Contemporary; Convertible Night, Flurry of Stones, recipient of a 2010 Sheila Motton Book Award; and her most recent, Silvertone, for which she was named Ohio Poetry Day Association’s 2014 Co-Poet of the Year. Her translation from Ukrainian of Alexander Dovzhenko’s novella, The Enchanted Desna, was published by House Between Water in 2006; and Jeff Friedman’s and her co-translation of Memorials by Polish Poet Mieczyslaw Jastrun was published by Dialogos in 2014. She is a Founding Editor of Four Way Books, a recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Massachusetts Cultural Council poetry grant, and a co-recipient with Jeff Friedman of a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts Translation Grant. She serves as Editor for Poetry in Translation for Solstice Literary Magazine and teaches as poetry faculty at the Solstice Low-Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing of Pine Manor College and at Providence College.

Read the poems by Dzvinia Orlowsky


Glue Wind


Elmer’s Glue—swirled, rising into what her painter’s eye

recognized as a pair of blowing snow funnels.

I had reassured her I saw them too, and pulling


her close said Look, Tamara, if we squint,

the funnels shift slightly. And why is it

that, now, with her nine years gone


I suddenly want to take it down from the wall,

as if to say once and for all: Glue is glue,

others have done it. Though maybe not


with her 85-year-old arthritic hands. I could

put it somewhere between the pantry and crawl

space, cover it with a towel where it will pull


snow to it from an opened pack of flour,

until maybe, I’ll uncover it again next winter.

Until then, in its place, I’ll hang instead


her painting of violets. Not really

violets, after all, but more like a bouquet

of bruise-colored fingerprints. Where was it


I once read that German work camp

survivors often painted flowers?

Was it how they turned their minds away


from the dead—from eyes and skin

bleached by moonlight? I see her carefully

squeezing out several purples shades,


each one applied more thickly than the first,

wiping the excess with what looked

to be an old pair of her deceased


husband’s briefs, the dark oils,

staining her fingers, her eyes straining

to see the flowers. Maybe,


even though I know it’s just glue

and not the winter wind, every December

I’ll return the painting back to its place


next to the kitchen window wall

where I can look at it while I eat, sip

warm tea: two funnels solidified


into something that, if I squint,

look like swirling snow—They could

be named anything.






—for W.L.


Black band of crickets,

shiny bodies, perfect anvil heads—

levitating above un-mowed grass.


Their song passes through my window,

this breeze, hand-like, glove-like

fingers rubbing together,

searching for dust.




Folding a Stranger’s Laundry


You didn’t tuck a quick love note

into the front pocket of his denim Levis shirt

or begin to sing Teach Me Tonight under your breath,

two years and counting after your divorce.

Instead you hung around the dryer pretending

to have accidentally dropped one

of what no doubt had to be

a favorite pair of socks,

the one that would suddenly appear,

a stowaway hitched onto an over-sized towel,

a turn of luck, a good omen—


You didn’t find a woman’s slippery

nightgown among his workout gear,

a citrus colored thong for you

to slowly peel apart from his Under Armour,

dismissing the sparks. You didn’t

have to say a prayer for love to find you,

then and there, in a basement laundry room.

Prayers, you believed, were meant for bigger

things—for, as a child, remembering to sleep

with your hands above your blankets,

luminous rosary beads

woven between your fingers.


You only had to lightly tug on his torn t-shirt

for it to tumble freely out of the drum,

to imagine it, instead, as a favorite rag

with which he wiped down maybe a saxophone,

playing a few licks and phrases,

after sunset, in his sound-proofed bedroom,

his pants, flecked with white paint,

from perhaps painting a fence. For once,

you didn’t have to reinvent yourself

in the lint-colored light, the bare bulbs

and give-away magazines,

swab your lips Sax Saver red

then slip into a shiny metallic

crop top and jeans.


You just had to be there, then,

that afternoon–

no one around,

his laundry, done,

except for one last shirt you left unfolded,

sky blue,

it seemed,

opening its arms to you.


                                  — for Jay





Purchasing Respirators at Home Depot for My Family,

Post 9/11 2001


Mary Oliver’s geese have stopped

heading home.

Symborska’s white ants


have lost their signal,

William Stafford’s river finally admits

Hell if I know anymore…


Even the thickening sky can’t keep

promises: wet paper tissues

and plastic grocery bags catch


on telephone poles, hatch

into dark lungs. Multi-purpose

respirators, one size fits all,


instructions available in five languages.

I grab four: two for my husband and me;

one each for my son and daughter.


O face piece, filter cartridge,

chlorine and muriatic acid,

asbestos, dust fumes, lead—


making their way across the landscape,

announcing their place

in the family of things.


(*note: last stanza is taken with slight variation from Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese)