1. Home
  2. Poetry Magazine
  3. Poems
  4. Mocking Bird Hotel by Valzhyna Mort
Mocking Bird Hotel

Related Poem Content Details

A woman’s hallelujah! washes the foot of Mocking Bird
Hill, her face eclipsed by her black mouth,
her eyes rolled up like workman’s sleeves.
Stirred up, a fly speaks in the tongue of the hotel
doorbell, where, on the sun-ridden straw terrace
my salvation means less than praise
to a dumb child. Damned, blinded by ice cubes,
the fly surrenders its life into the waiter’s clean hands.

Behind the kitchen of the Mocking Bird Hotel
a rooster repeats hallelujah! until it loses its head.
A man harvests the Family Tree before his forefathers’
features have a chance to ripen on their faces. Parakeets
watch him from the bare nerves of the garden. He harvests
before the worms that eat his father turn into demons.

Do not eat the fruit from your Family Tree. You have
eyes not to see them, hands not to pick them, teeth
not to bite them, tongue not to taste them even in speech.
The waiter slashes the table with our bill. We descend
Mocking Bird Hill without raising dust. Dogs,
their fur hanging like wet feathers off their backs,
piss yellow smoke without lifting a leg. Gulls
smash their heads between their wings.
Light lays the eggs of shadows under the shrubs.
Produce shacks stand empty like football gates.
What appeared blue from afar, turns green.
                 I hold it all in, even my own urine.
But the mother of vowels slumps from my throat
like the queen of a havocked beehive.

Higher than hallelujah! rising like smoke over the hill,
I scream at the top of that green lung,
                                                                    why, in the Mocking Bird
Hell, do you value your blood over your sweat,
that bitterness over this salt, that wound over this
crystal? But often, to shed light on the darkness, light
isn’t enough. Often what I need is even a darker
darkness. Like in those hours before the sun incriminates this
hotel, his two nostrils that illuminate our benighted bodies.

Source: Poetry (July/August 2011)

More from this issue

This poem originally appeared in the July/August 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

  • Search every issue of Poetry

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine. Search the whole site

Mocking Bird Hotel

Related Poem Content Details

  • Born in Minsk, Belarus (part of the former Soviet Union), in 1981, Valzhyna Mort has been praised as “[a] risen star of the international poetry world” by the Irish Times. When she moved to the United States in 2005, she had already published her first book, I’m as Thin as Your Eyelashes, and was known across the world as an electrifying reader of her poems. Her debut collection in America, Factory of Tears, has received acclaim: the New Yorker writes, “Mort strives to be an envoy for her native country, writing with almost alarming vociferousness about the struggle to establish a clear identity for Belarus and its language.” She composes her poems in Belarusian as attempts are being made to revitalize the traditional language, which lends her work both conventional and groundbreaking tones. Mort reads in both Belarusian and English, and so the poem “New York” provides an ideal context...

  • Poem Categorization

    If you disagree with this poem's categorization make a suggestion.
  • Search every issue of Poetry

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine. Search the whole site

Other Information