Alex Cigale

The Woman Who Lived on the Smell of Flowers

Her moods are like fogs;
                           they settle and lift.
Like scents they suffuse
                and evaporate.


She had felt nothing.
                What use are feelings?
Her thoughts had been her
                            armor all her life.


Can’t tell them apart.
                Moods, not emotions.
He’d stayed out all night
                doing crack with whores.


Thinking about him
                she forgets herself.
When he’s missing it’s
                as if she’s not there.


Waiting to be well
                she thinks: I will live
when this is over.
                And then something else.


Goes to work, bruises
                covered with makeup.
We'd rather be slaves
                than face the unknown.


When he sees she is
                as miserable as
he is, he will stop.
                         It means he loves her.

Alex Cigale's poems have appeared in Colorado, Green Mountains, North American, Tampa, and the Literary reviews, Asymptote, Drunken Boat, and McSweeney's. His translations from the Russian can be found in Ancora Imparo, Cimarron Review, Literary Imagination, Modern Poetry in Translation, PEN America, and Two Lines. Currently, he is Assistant Professor at the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.