Tender, Tender

When I asked Olena, in Kyiv,
she said she was a barman.

I slipped her a smile like I’d slip
a waitress a tip at the end of the night.

Where I live, we say bartender.


she asked,
looking at the blue-black bruise on my arm.


I repeated, looking not into her hazel eyes,
but at the violet circles underneath.

When she swept her long hair, henna,
up and off her neck, I thought of my daughter,

and when she twisted it into a tight rope,
I thought of my heart, and again, I thought,