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IN THE RENDERINGS OF WHICH THERE ARE MANY, or EVERY OLD MAN WEAVES A TALE ACCORDING TO HIS OWN LIKING

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Abigail Chabitnoy

As to their origin, Davydov tells us, they had the strangest ideas.

There is a note.

 

Their origin had ideas.

They fell from the sky.          the ideas or the people or

A bitch was the island, or

The island was a bitch, and                 or

brindled he swam;                 the old goat

Some hold both                       the dogs

descended there.                    still other. still

It is plain they regard [a girl] as

habit of the island.

 

That is, she was sent to the island,

the girl                                     because / her sons

                                                  were dogs

That is, she was already an island.

(She is always already the island.)

 

/ / There are so many small islands [dismissive gesture, a wave] I need a bigger map to show you / /

 

None of them say anything (de)finite.

 

The people had doubtless forgotten the island, before

The people came to | be | the island.

 

The island was before.

 

There was always an island / a

Before.

 

Always she begins

                                                           at / sea

in a mouth

in a cave                                            a mother buried

in the deep.

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Lisianski 1812, II, 75

HOLES IN THE FIELD
 

Abigail Chabitnoy

The women are not there.

 

The girls are not there.

 

What if the sea were a mouth?

 

                Imam taanga taryutuu’uq.

 

                Empty.

 

                Full.

 

Otherwise, “imaq.”

 

Otherwise, “a liquid contained inside.”

 

“Contents”

                rising.

 

Take care, each

point of stress.

 

The word for the week is Woman. Arnat peknartutaartut.

This is only a test: how closely are you listening?

                We must dive.

Everywhere I went to wash

my hands

                there was blood.

 

     Back bending

                      we dove

 

the words air in our mouths.

 

Without them you are not a whole person,

Eemaq said to me at the grave.

SIX LINES FOR CHRISTINE, MY BLACK-HAIRED GRANDMOTHER
 

Abigail Chabitnoy

Wind like this, Nikifor?

He went to war

He came home

We were married.

 

I never asked her what she dreamed

The nights before she told me to bury her

In the dress she wore to her only son’s wedding.

 

Wind, like this?

IN THE FIELD
 

Abigail Chabitnoy

They asked me if I was a citizen.

 

They wanted to know what I had seen/

I had heard/

this was only a test:

 

Look at the mark and tell them what you see.

Akarngasqangcugmek pilirluku,

a woman said to me.

 

They want more,

she said.

 

I gave her a tooth from my mouth

to cut the skin stretched before her.

She dug. With her mouth

she dug enough holes

in the earth she divided

with her work.

She cut the skin even

into pieces she divided

in the earth:

 

this is for your mouth

this is for your stomach

this is for your hand

this is for your rib

this is for your table

this is for sharing

this is for later

this is for the others

this

       is (for) you

I see a well,

I said.

 

I showed them my hands

clean under the nails and

 

open

     swallowed the dirt

under my tongue.

 

They let me walk away

 

with the shine

in my eyes.

 

They don’t look you

in the eyes, these men

                     these days.

 

I walked away with a garden

in my throat and seeds

on my tongue

to sow the earth

what I’d heard.

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