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Tattooed Mountain Women and Spoon Boxes of Dagestan

by Anna Badkhen



“In this atmosphere, ethnic jokes serve as a safety valve; failure to enjoy them is viewed as ‘a shortcoming in a man’s character,’ said Mr. Magomedkhanov, whose scholarly works include Tattooed Mountain Women and Spoon Boxes of Dagestan.” -- Ellen Barry, The New York Times, Feb. 17, 2010


When I’m a tattooed mountain woman in Dagestan

I will hang my bed linen out to dry

on the very top. The crows will know: it is time for breakfast.


The crows and I will pick through ancestral spoons, setting aside the shinier ones

to gaze at our upside-down reflections.


“You need more tattoos

to be as beautiful as us,” they will declare, after a time.

Then they will pick a spoon as payment for their wisdom, and fly blackly down the mountain.


The wings of bed sheets will ice up

and sing in the wind.

White chimes.




Read all work by Anna Badkhen


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