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Grandma, how was I born?

by Katrina Papouskaya

was it snowing that night? the sun had set | the snow was thick and glittering | no snow falling
just crunching underfoot | it was red | red and blue | the nurses wore baby blue | my father | no |
my drunken father wrote a telegram | no not quite | my father and grandfather wrote a drunken
telegram announcing my birth to my grandmother | you were in ukraine? | yes, ukraine | it was
snowing in ukraine | my mother always says i was born at 9:30 on the dot | that can’t be right she
just told you that to appease you | my agony over the astrology chart | she doesn’t remember
exactly how | long was the labor? twelve hours | twelve hours? | yes | no my father wasn’t there | i
was born crying and red | one of two births that night | me and a boy who i later went to
kindergarten with | and kissed on the playground | for letting me have one of his power rangers |
the snow was shoveled away that morning just pavement underfoot | the lampposts glowed a cool
white | it was so quiet that night | quiet outside | chaos inside | my mother was so young | hazel
eyes | soon there would be an identical pair | black | was her hair pressed to her sweaty forehead |
was she beautiful | yes beautiful | how ever did my father land her | average bloke that he is | he was
a lawyer | a lawyer? | whip smart he drove us crazy | ruined christmas dinner | your beautiful
mother cried in the bathroom | in her long floral dress her | nails done | hair tossed up |
welcoming in the new year crying in the bathroom | it was christmas? or new year? | both | same
holiday in belarus | what did he do? he showed up drunk | he insulted a guest | and upturned a
селедка под шубой grandma had made | he slapped you grandma? | no your mother | jesus | you
have to understand it was a different time | that’s what you always say | it was a different time it
was a different time | when you were born it was snowing a blizzard that night | in the tiny town
of marina gorka | and the ever-peeling birch trees swayed | welcoming you in

Katrina Papouskaya is a Belarusian-American writer currently residing in Brooklyn with her cat. She holds an MFA in poetry from The New School. Her poetry has been featured in Glassworks magazine and Miracle Monocle.

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