The Shedding of Salmon Skin

Iryna Klishch, Denison University


I am standing at the
bazaar with prunes in
a plastic bag, asking
mama for the history
of solitude, the history
of war. Pretty girl,
buy yourself a dress.
Later that night, we
peel potatoes, and eat
hot soup and I dream
of wearing my skin
like molasses, like
ocean. When I tell
mama this the next
morning, I burn my
tongue on the oat-
meal and she teaches
me the art of lipstick.
I don’t get used to
older men staring at
my mouth until I am
twenty-three, wearing
jewelry and small wrists,
undergarments the
color of tree bark,
teeth shattering every
time someone mentions
murder, poetry, love.
And it isn’t until I am
buried in my grave that
I remember the color the
sky used to be before
the birds ate it.

Iryna Klishch studies Creative Writing at Denison University. She’s from a small town of Nadvirna, Ukraine but currently resides in a suburb of Chicago. She hopes her words find you.