Sylt I

Valzhyna Mort

Lie still, he says.

Like a dog on the beach
he starts digging
until the hole fills up with water.
He has already dug out two thighs of sand
when she finally asks, what's there,
convinced there’s nothing.

There’s nowhere he can kiss her where she hasn't already been kissed by the sun.

Every evening she goes to the ocean with her three sisters and their old father.
They strip in a row,
their bodies identical as in a paper garland.
Bodies that make you think of women constantly chopping vegetables
– it is like living by the train station,
their father swears -
and always putting the last slice into their mouths.
For her, there is not even a knife left in the whole house.
The sound of a cuckoo limps across the dunes.
She takes a beam of sunlight sharpened side by side with stones
and cuts with it
and you can tell her vegetables from the others'
by how they burn.
Long after dinner they converse in the garden.
From above, ripened in their warm breath, plums fall about the table.
They draw the plums, one by one, like dominoes from the stock,
sweet bones and crushed June bugs stick to the table.

By now they already stand wrapped in cocoons of white towels,
her teeth, crossed out by a blue line of lips, chatter,
scratching the grains of salt. Her bitten tongue
bleeds out into the mouth a red oyster,
which she gulps, breathless.

Their father turns away to dry his cock,
but the girls rub their breasts and crotches openly,
their hands skilled at wiping tables,
their heads as big as the shadow of the early moon,
their nipples as big as the shadows of their heads,
and black so that their milk might look even whiter.

She, too, is rough and indifferent towards her full breasts,
as if she were brushing a cat off the chair
for her old father to sit down.

They drink beer in the northern light that illuminates nothing but itself.
Sailboats slip off their white sarafans
baring their scrawny necks and shoulders,
and line up holding on to the pier as if it were a dance bar.

It bothers her, what did he find there after all?
So she touches herself under the towel.
It is easy to find where he has been digging –
the dug-up spot is still soft.

The water is flat like fur licked down by a clean animal.
A bird, big even from afar,
believes the ocean is its egg.
So the bird sits on the ocean patiently
and feels it kick slightly now and then.


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