English Lessons

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The cards were much more 
than flat carton things 						between my fingers;
they were gateways. 						Possibilities.


Russian words
didn't stand out,
were not music,
just everyday gray, the surface of the river in September;
Russian words were the kind of sky
you walk under, unknowing.

But the new words,
the ones my grandfather gave me,
they were made of real sound
they
made		
my 
lips 
come together,


		bunch 
up and blow		the air
				out


				  in 
strange         	new 
ways.


"Repeat after me,"
my grandfather said,
holding up 		the card
the color of 		sharp Siberian sky 
in the 			summer,

"repeat after me,"
he said, 
					the		
naming				card,


and 
I
 did,

I
still

do	

the sound
a gift 
back  to the world, from my brand new throat,
"blue."

Katia Raina

Katia Raina emigrated from the former Soviet Union in 1993 at the age of 15. Her fiction and non-fiction appeared in Faces, Calliope, Skipping Stones and other publications for young readers. She is a former award-winning newspaper journalist and currently an intern with a literary agency, with plans to continue her career on the other side of the publishing desk as well.

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