Yelabuga

By VALZHYNA MORT

Maria does her washing by the wall
so bare that you’d think she shaved it.

The window’s open, anyone can see.
Soap hisses. Air-raid warning rings
like a telephone from the future.
Her dress is nailed onto the laundry line.
From this gray garment, that is either guarding
or attacking the house, three yards of darkness
fall across the floorboards. She stands inside,
like on the bottom of a river, her heart an octopus.

Her hands so big, next to them, her head is a small o,
(the neighbors squint)

stuffed hungrily with stubborn hair.

 

Valzhyna Mort was born in Minsk, Belarus. She is the author two poetry collections, Factory of Tears and Collected Body. A recipient of the Lannan Foundation Fellowship and the Bess Hokin Prize for Poetry, she teaches at Cornell University.

[Purchase your copy of Issue 09 here.]

Yelabuga

Related Posts

poetry feature image

January 2021 Poetry Feature: Bruce Bond

BRUCE BOND
I was just another creature crawling from the mausoleum, / and I thought, so this is it, the place in the final chapter / where I am judged for all my cruelties, blunders, failures of attention, / and I waited for the furies to take me, or some such host. / But it was just another morning.

Sky full of comets

Poems in Translation from Bestia di gioia

MARIANGELA GUALTIERI
And he soars / saved, outstretched / untouched by the gravity that pins us / down / we deserters of empty spaces and heights / shadows cast / into modest taverns for a bite. / Heads in capitals / of rust. / A lifetime annuity of darkness. / Only a cry can save us now.

poetry feature image

December 2020 Poetry Feature: Denise Duhamel and Jeffrey Harrison

DENISE DUHAMEL
Where was I / when I was 20? I’d already been accepted / as an exchange student, taking my first plane ride / to London where I’d catch a train / to Wales. On that first flight, I sat next to a woman / in a shawl—how old was she? It’s hard to say.