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He is asking about my tattoo. I answer, trying out different Slavic words for rook: crook, grook. “Hruk,” he says, smiling. “My father, he loved the birds,” he says. “But with the war we had no food. We killed and ate them, ate everything, ate the dog. So they went away. Now they are come back,” he says, smiling again. Have they forgiven you? I wonder stupidly. As if death was like that.

Michelle Matthees' poems have appeared in Conduit, Memorious, The Baltimore Review, J Journal, The Prose Poem Project, and numerous other journals. In 2016 New Rivers Press published her book-length collection of poems, Flucht. More information about her work is available at michellematthees.com.

You can see more of her work in 9.4 and 9.4

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