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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

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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.

 

 

 

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