We ate the animals we owned
And the ones we didn’t sat at
The dinner table afterward
Playing gin rummy
As if it was something
Important and special
Like taking communion or voting
They spoke German
Always German
Always about us
Our names mired in the harsh dialect
Each tsch! richt! or flucht!
A discordant piano key
Dissolving through
The smoke-filled ceiling
In fifth grade
I earned the language
But didn’t tell anyone
Voyeur spy or traitor
I might have been them all
Seated nearby listening
Deciphering code
Stitching their secrets together
Then my mouth and eyelids
Using a sharp needle and
Mother’s finest silk thread

Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State, an editor at the online magazine Literary Orphans, and the author of I’m Not Supposed to Be Here and Neither Are You, out now from Unknown Press. You can also find him at

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