“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.