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by Nicole Yurcaba

NELLE 6 | 2023

She keeps a knife
wrapped in her apron.

She has spent the morning
convincing me Dido Mykola
is dead      not living
under her bed or in my closet.
I tell her I saw him last night, his yellowed fingers
slow-opening the Royal Dansk tin
where she hides the after-dinner mints
she keeps for only me.

What if the Russians come?
I ask.      We live in Pennsylvania.
It's the 90s.
World War II ended long ago . . . for some.
I am seven,
playing in the pantry
counting aluminum cans:
     12 red beets
     10 green beans
     4 carrots
     2 peaches.

Turned to the sink, she answers:
Then I will hide you
in the basement, beneath the stairs,
& dare them to push me.

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