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's "Kunstkamera" can be read in the print edition of The Arkansas International 2.
Valzhyna Mort is the author of Factory of Tears and Collected Body. She has received the Lannan Foundation Fellowship, the Bess Hokins Prize from Poetry, the Amy Clampitt Fellowship, as well a number of European honors. Born in Minsk, Belarus, she teaches at Cornell University.