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.
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