Best of the Net 2017  


Holding it like a rat, your mother-in-law
burned her hair, strand by strand, in the kitchen.
Outside—a snow epidemic. Inside—your young wife.
Inside your wife—a fetus, the size of spit.

We were two eighteen-year-old women. When you draw that number, a thin figure stands
by a race car track, like in that French film, remember?
You, in a black turtleneck, talking about hypnosis and Hitler.

How do you find a girl like that? So pale, so hairy, so big-eyed.
Bushes of eyelashes set on fire by a single glance in my direction.
She threw herself on the floor as on a frying pan.
Through her thrust-open mouth, I saw her child's
throat, strained into a star-shaped spit.
Can a throat smile? It did.

When you hold a pomegranate berry to the light,
inside its miniature blood capsule, you see a seed,
a blind eyeball, grain of snow preserved in tart
flesh. On a closer look though, a developing bone,
a limb. Kunstkamera built of ripped

With the strongest muscle on my body—my mouth—
I knocked down the door and ran out into the snow.

- Valzhyna Mort (from The Arkansas International)