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The Closest Thing

by Elina Katrin

The closest thing to a cloud I ever touched is lambswool. My fingers running through sheep’s back and squeezing, milking the softness into my skin. The blinding whiteness before my eyes turned into a wedding, Syrian women imitating music with their tongues. My throat didn’t bend that way.


The first thing I ever saw die – the lamb suspended by its back legs, belly sliced open. Grandparents danced, jumped the river of blood, cheered for the newlyweds. Mom told me not to look, I looked and squeezed her hand and didn’t know if the blood dripped from the lamb’s face or from my eyes. I looked and dad told me it’s a tradition, a good omen for love. I heard the lamb’s bleating throughout that night and soaked the pillow with vows of never getting married.


Today my teeta is dying of cancer and I brush my teeth with whitening toothpaste thinking about having salmon cream cheese bagels for lunch. I tell her la tubki just like she told me when the sheep was screaming and kicking for its hanged life and I asked adults to stop but they didn’t until the animal’s guts plopped on the ground like jelly straws and mother’s hand lost its protective might.

About the Author

Originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, Elina Katrin is an MFA candidate in poetry at Hollins University. She is an Assistant Poetry Editor at The Hollins Critic and a baking enthusiast.

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