poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

Belarusian I

Valzhyna Mort
even our mothers have no idea how we were born
how we parted their legs and crawled out into the world
the way you crawl from the ruins after a bombing
we couldn't tell which of us was a girl or a boy
we gorged on dirt thinking it was bread
and our future
a gymnast on a thin thread of the horizon
was performing there
at the highest pitch
bitch

we grew up in a country where
first your door is stroked with chalk
then at dark a chariot arrives
and no one sees you anymore
but riding in those cars were neither
armed men nor
a wanderer with a scythe
this is how love loved to visit us
and snatch us veiled

completely free only in public toilets
where for a little change nobody cared what we were doing
we fought the summer heat the winter snow
when we discovered we ourselves were the language
and our tongues were removed we started talking with our eyes
when our eyes were poked out we talked with our hands
when our hands were cut off we conversed with our toes
when we were shot in the legs we nodded our heads for yes
and shook our heads for no and when they ate our heads alive
we crawled back into the bellies of our sleeping mothers
as if into bomb shelters
to be born again

and there on the horizon the gymnast of our future
was leaping through the fiery hoop
of the sun

From Factory of Tears by Valzhyna Mort. Copyright © 2008 by Valzhyna Mort. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press. All rights reserved.

From Factory of Tears by Valzhyna Mort. Copyright © 2008 by Valzhyna Mort. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press. All rights reserved.

Valzhyna Mort

by this poet

poem

A yoke of honey in a glass of cooling milk.
Bats playful like butterflies on power lines.
In all your stories blood hangs like braids

of drying onions. Our village is so small,
it doesn’t have its own graveyard. Our souls,
are sapped in sour water of the bogs. 

Men
poem
a woman moves through dog rose and juniper bushes,
a pussy clean and folded between her legs, 
breasts like the tips of her festive shoes
shine silently in her heavy armoire.

one black bird, one cow, one horse. 
the sea beats against the wall of the waterless.
she walks to a phone booth that waits
a fair