Olympic Curse by Jamie Cooper

I do not recall if ever there was a figure




lingering too long at the threshold of my Slavic homestead




or if at some fateful instant I crossed paths with the custodial engineer




wielding a mop bucket, emptied of the requisite rakes and brooms.



I recall pausing to sit quietly for a moment




in anticipation of every journey,




but never with my feet propped up on my provincial table,




I do not recall the gift of knives, the gift of clocks,




or the gift of scarves on Russian holidays,




have always welcomed the arrivals of pigeons and arachnids.




I remained hidden from friends and relatives for 40 days after I was born.




I’ve drunk every ounce of alcohol in my house,




clutching the chilled glass with my palm until the last drop.




I drank the last glassful for luck




and always raised a lucky toast to my comrades,




I’ve eaten chunks of food off the end of a knife,




I’ve listened to the lucky ringing in my ears,




felt the lucky itch of my eye sockets.




I often consider the living waters of the feminine Earth,




its fertile future,




and the purifying fires that burn with the spirits of our ancestors,




and filled with dread I often think about these evil winds.




I’ve burned the effigy of my lesser self,




bathed in streams beneath new moons and thunder.




Jamie Cooper is a 2004 graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His work has appeared in TYPO, the Colorado Review, Parthenon West, and elsewhere. He teaches English and writes about the NBA for UPROXX Sports. He lives in Portland, OR.