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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.

My Father’s Breed

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 into her earring hole and aim
at her large breasts not to hurt my knuckles.
I slap her face like I flip through channels.

My father lies at the door. From his shirt
lipstick smiles at me with the warmth of urine.
It’s as if somebody threw at him slices
of skinned grapefruit.
Every time she hits him—I hit her.
Look at this. Look whom you’ve bred.

How can he see from under his pink vomit.
But his body smiles—
cannot stop smiling.

From Collected Body. Copyright © 2011 by Valzhyna Mort. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press. All rights reserved.

From Collected Body. Copyright © 2011 by Valzhyna Mort. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press. All rights reserved.

Valzhyna Mort

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
                                                 Here, where I’m dying, in a white 
                                                 house by a blue harbor.
                                                        —Maxim Bakhdanovich

 
Come in, Maxim!... This is Minsk
choked under a pillow of clouds.
2
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 die in wars, their bodies their graves. 
And
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