On a bare tree — a red beast,
so still it has become the tree.
Now it’s the tree that prowls over the beast,
a cautious beast itself.
A stone thrown at its breast is
so fast — the stone has become the beast.
Now it’s the beast that throws itself like a stone.
Blood like a dog-rose tree on a windy day,
and the moon is trying on your face
for the annual masquerade of the dead.
Death decides to wait to hear more.
So death mews:
first — your story, then — me.
The wind that makes your hair grow faster
opens a child’s mouth full of strawberry and sand.
Slow and sure
on the scales of the ocean
the child’s head outweighs the sun.
Inside of the wind —
a blister of a church,
its walls thicker than the space from wall to wall
where the wind shifts shade and light
like two rival chess pieces
or two unmatched pieces of furniture.
Inside of the church — such a stillness
that when a feather floats down in a fist of dust
it becomes a rock by the time it hits the ground.
Organ pipes glint like a cold radiator,
contained in a case of a carved tree, its branches
tied up with a snake.
Organ pedals, golden and plump, are the tree’s only fruit.
It is all about the release of weight:
the player crushes the pedals like grapes underneath his feet.
My body, like an inaccurate cashier, adds your weight to itself.
Your name, called into the wind,
slows the wind down.
When a body is ripe, it falls and rots from the softest spot.
Only when a child slips and drops off a tree,
the tree suddenly learns that it is barren.
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 blackbird, 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 passed swollen 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.
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 a 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.
it begins with your face of a stone
where lips repose like two seals
in a coastal mist of cigarette smoke
you move through the streets —
is as useless as naming waves.
(that city is so handsome for a reason —
it was made out of your rib)
it continues with my
skidmarked by a dress
body. i stand on the border
on heels like my sixth toes
and show you
where to park.
that very night
in the dogs yard
— flowers are biting my back! —
the longer i look on the coins of your nipples
the clearer i see the Queen’s profile.
for you, body and money are the same
as the chicken and the egg.
the metaphor of “a woman’s purse”
stealing, you like to mumble:
a purse is a purse is a purse is a purse.
a real purse in your hand is worth
two metaphorical purses over your mouth.
they tell me
you are a body
anchored to the shore by its rusting blood.
your wound darkens on your chest like a crow.
i tell them — as agreed — that you are my youth.
an apple that bit into me to forget its own knowledge.
death hands you every new day like a golden coin.
as the bribe grows
it gets harder to turn it down.
your heart of gold gets heavier to carry.
your hands know that a car has a waist
and a gun — a lobe.
you take me where the river once lifted its skirts
and God, abashed with that view,
ordered to cover that shame with a city.
its dance square
shrank by the darkness to the size
of a sleeping infant’s slightly open mouth.
i cannot tell between beggars’ stretched hands
and dogs’ dripping tongues.
you cannot tell between legs —
mine—tables’ — chairs’ — others’.
that dance square is a cage
where accordions grin at dismembered violin torsos.
beggars lick thin air off their lips.
women whirling in salsa slash you
across the chest with the blades
of their skirts soiled with peonies.
З кнігі Collected Body, Copper Canyon Press, 2011
Вершы Sylt ІІ, Crossword, Jean-Paul Belmondo ўпершыню надрукаваныя на poetryfoundation.org .
Верш My father's breed упершыню надрукаваны ў Narrative Magazine.
© Valzhyna Mort, 2011