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About this poet

Belarusian poet Valzhyna Mort is the author of Collected Body (Copper Canyon Press, 2012) and Factory of Tears (Copper Canyon Press, 2008), which was cotranslated into English by Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright and poet Franz Wright. Mort, who writes in Belarusian and English, is the recipient of a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship, the Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry, and the Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship, among other honors.

crossword

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 distance from all three villages.

it's a game she could have heard on the radio:
a question, a number, an answer, a prize.
her pussy reaches up and turns on the light in her womb.

from the rain, she says into the receiver, 
we compiled white tables and chairs under a shed
into a crossword puzzle
and sat ourselves in the grid.

the receiver is silent. the bird flounces
like a burglar caught red-handed.
her voice stumbles over her glands.
the body to be written in the last block—
i can suck his name out of any letter.

all three villages cover their faces with wind.

From So Much Things To Say: 100 Calabash Poets. Copyright © 2010 by Valzhyna Mort. Used with permisson of Calabash International Literary Trust and the author.

From So Much Things To Say: 100 Calabash Poets. Copyright © 2010 by Valzhyna Mort. Used with permisson of Calabash International Literary Trust and the author.

Valzhyna Mort

Belarusian poet Valzhyna Mort is the author of Collected Body (Copper Canyon Press, 2012) and Factory of Tears (Copper Canyon Press, 2008), which was cotranslated into English by Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright and poet Franz Wright.

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

It’s four in the morning.
I’m ten years old.
I’m beating my mother between the mirror and the shoe rack.
The front door is ajar. A bridge
presses its finger to the frozen strip of water.
Snow falls over it gritting like sand on glass.
Both of us in our long nightgowns.

I stare

poem
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