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Gala Mukomolova

Gala Mukomolova received an MFA from the University of Michigan. She is the author of Without Protection (Coffee House Press, 2019). A recipient of the 2016 92nd Street Y Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Prize, she runs the Galactic Rabbit website and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

By This Poet

5

You don't love me, you say, and deflate

You don’t love me, you say, and deflate
our air mattress, meeting me at the fold.
                                        We’re in a bad lesbian performance piece

You don’t eat the sandwich I make you.
I puncture your yoga ball. Or, the dog did
                                                            This is a drawing of the dog.
                                           I meant to watch something and be still
                                                                                 for a long time.

I'm not sure what belongs to me. 
                                      It’s your money
                                                         stop asking me what you mean

Porcelain skunk, perfect Q-tip holder.
Ceramic parrot, good for something.

                  If you don’t trust me with this cup then wrap it yourself.

The dog hasn’t stopped barking in hours—anxious.

                                  I know you can lift the chair, what you can do
                                                                                is not the point.

Vasya, in Bed

If you fall asleep now, all the mice will find your bed.
Drawn to the warm life in you, they’ll spend the night

power grooming your small patches of fur     nibbling
on your overgrown toenails.         You don’t want that.

It’s too close.                                     Stay awake, Vasya.
No one’s coming.                                      Breeze is cold.
Pull the covers over your ears.                 Not a woman.
                                              Just the shape of a woman.

Weight presses down on your duvet-lump body     push
the word go from your ghost-wrapped throat. She’ll go.

Not all ghosts mean trouble     —you could let her stay.
                       (To aid sleep, recite the Cyrillic alphabet.)

At the foot of your bed                                 something.
Close your window, keep water by.

That’s a frog’s croak.                           That’s your body.
                               That’s a night bird.

Return

There are poets with history and poets without history, Tsvetsaeva claimed living 
through the ruin of Russia.  
 
Karina says disavow every time I see her. We, the daughters between countries, 
wear our mean mothers like scarves around our necks.
 
Every visit, mine recounts all the wrongs done against her
 
ring sent for polishing returned with a lesser diamond, Years of never rest and,
she looks at me, of nothing to be proud of.
 
I am covered in welts and empty pockets so large sobs escape me in the backroom of 
my Landlord's fabric shop. He moves to wipe my tears
 
as if I’m his daughter 
or I’m no one’s daughter.
 
It’s true, I let him take my hand, I am a girl who needs something. I slow cook bone
grief, use a weak voice.
 
My mother calls me the girl with holes in her hands, every time I lose something.
 
All Russian daughters were snowflakes once, and in their hair a ribbon long
as their body knotted and knotted and knotted into a large translucent bow.
 
It happens, teachers said, that a child between countries will refuse to speak. 
A girl with a hole in her throat, every day I opened the translation book.
 
Silent, I took my shoes off when I came home, I 
put my house clothes on.
 
We had no songs, few rituals. On Yom Kippur, we lit a candle for the dead
and no one knew a prayer.
 
We kept the candle lit, that’s all.

The wave always returns, and always returns a different wave.
I was small. I built a self outside my self because a child needs shelter.
 
Not even you knew I was strange,
I ate the food my family ate, I answered to my name.