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Sochi. 1982.

They stand

hand in hand

with the confidence of an excellent grade

on a report card.

Out of the corner of their eyes

they might see the beach,

a boy hiding behind a slice of watermelon –

his ancient red fortress.

Preoccupied, he peers through the pit holes

waiting for his enemy to approach.

His enormous mother reads a list of passengers from the crashed airplane,

how their blood went up

like a boiling thermometer

and horror no longer had a signifier.

Under her sweaty palms, the print blurs,

turning into black body bags

arranged on the page.


Hand in hand

they stand in Sochi in 1982.

She thinks to herself:

my Lifeline is not on the palm of my hand,

but bent slightly in the knee,

it’s my leg lifted over my man’s body.

How natural it is for a Lifeline

to start where a leg does.

Between the shots, in her mind’s eye

she considers the line’s length,

and smiles into the camera with relief –

for her legs are long.

On the beach

the watermelon fortress

stands sweet,


blood invisible on its red bricks.

from Collected BodyFind it in the library

Copyright © 2011 Valzhyna Mort
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Published in Poems Valzhyna Mort

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