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
sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox
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 women burn in fire. When midsummer brings thunderstorms, we cannot sleep because our house is a wooden sieve, and crescent lightning cut off our hair. The bogs ablaze, we sit all night in fear. I always thought that your old trophy Singer would hurry us away on its arched back. I thought we’d hold on to its mane of threads from loosened spools along Arabic spine, same threads that were sown into my skirts, my underthings, first bras. What smell came from those threads you had so long, sown in, pulled out, sown back into the clothes that held together men who’d fall apart undressed. Same threads between my legs! I lash them, and the Singer gallops! And sky hangs only the lightning’s thread. Like in that poem: on Berlin’s Jaegerstrasse Arian whores are wearing shirts ripped off sliced chests of our girls. My Singer-Horsey, why everything has to be like that poem?
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.