Soft signs

    We stumble into class, most
    late, with our coffees and half-open
    eyes. My Russian teacher smiles
    at us. Her accent sneaks by
    under the surface, subtle
    but noticeable. It does not scream “Russian”
    in the usual way, and it is only when she speaks
    of learning English I know for sure.
    Everything she says comes out soft, like she speaks
    in one big myahky znak, the soft sign
    I barely understand. She cannot
    talk without smiling.
    She quietly asks us to repeat
    after her, and I nod my head, eager to make her
    job easy. She always lets us out early.


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