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To breathe

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It is 11:50 in Pittsburgh a Wednesday
the first day I can see my breath, yes
it is 2010 and I am wearing my wool coat for the first time
since march because Rachael told me to and at the light
at 11:56 I find grocery receipts in my right pocket and
I don't know how to keep walking

I walk up Bigelow and turn past the crowds of girls in their
winter tights the boys smoking cigarettes behind their cupped
hands and no one is talking about the election I pick up a copy
of the newspaper where they have printed three articles about
it and a crossword I cannot solve
          I go to class
and Svetlana (real name Allie) asks who else plans to keep studying
this bizarre language and I raise my hand because I like bizarre
languages and the way they feel on my tongue I've picked up enough
french to curse out a policeman enough russian to run a circus
or maybe just the elephants and in Fairmont I picked up
enough english to know that I needed to pretend to be from
somewhere else you know it's all in how your vowels bend
but mine don't I do a convincing impression of not being myself most days
which is to say that I have no opinion of what Joe Manchin does
back home or God forbid his use of hair gel
and when we start my heart is still pounding loud
enough to hear in Rostov or outer space which is what happens
when you're just a little too suggestible
          bring on the newspapers
Pittsburgh you can't surprise me

-- Nina Sabak

 

Nina Sabak is a fiction undergrad at the University of Pittsburgh, where she also studies Russian, French, and poetry. Her work has been featured in Collision Magazine and Kestrel Magazine, and on WYEP's Prosody. She lives in Oakland. Many writers featured in Chapter & Verse are guests of Prosody, produced by Jan Beatty and Ellen Wadey. Prosody airs every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. on WYEP 91.3 FM.

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