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Words Without Borders is an inaugural Whiting Literary Magazine Prize winner!
from the April 2018 issue

[You’re Right]

you're right
I’m greedy everything’s got to be mine—
truth and pain and all the coconut yogurts
I hold onto everything with a hundred claws
as if I’d lived in the Soviet era too
you’ve no idea
what it means to stand in a sausage line! 
a bread line! a milk line! an egg line!
though
standing in a sausage line was probably just like it is today
still women’s work mostly because only women 
have criticized me for
my lack of experience standing in a sausage line
under a totalitarian regime
it makes you wonder what the hell
those women fought so hard for then
was it so that in the future they could
rub it in young people’s faces
look we had to live in a society like that
none of you know a thing about it you’re like shit on a silver spoon
whereas one time a saleslady in a cellar shop a blonde beauty
said you know things were good in the Soviet Union
everybody had a single uniform to wear to school
everyone was equal
course I was maybe seven at the time she told me that
but even then I didn’t like
the idea of a uniform I’d just gotten stylish new jeans
and didn’t even think of displaying myself like
I might see me as others’ equal
because we weren’t
not my stylish jeans
nor that cellar-shop saleslady with her fading beauty
in a childhood of identical pioneer uniforms
somebody’s always more equal
even if you paint them all red
 

© Sveta Grigorjeva. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2018 by Adam Cullen. All rights reserved.

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