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Martial Law

Perched between bedtime and awake, I sat on the staircase. In the rooms above, there were curtains barely closed on a field of December, the ground prickled bare. Through the spindles, I looked to the room below, the world suddenly cut into strips of vision. My father kept answering the phone. Słucham, I’m listening, he said. My mother had turned on the lights, and in the yellow brightness I could see someone had dropped the tiny spear of a toothpick, its point angled in the carpet. The guests—people who taught or told stories, who sent news across the border—could not go home. Men in uniform would be waiting to take them. Someone said curfew. Someone laughed in a way that sounded like gasping. On the wall, the clock hands were flinching their nervous time.


JEHANNE DUBROW is the author of seven poetry collections, including most recently American Samizdat (Diode Editions, 2019), and a book of creative nonfiction, throughsmoke: an essay in notes (New Rivers Press, 2019). Her work has appeared in Poetry, New England Review, and The Southern Review. She is a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of North Texas.


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