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  • My flat was on the edge of town on the road to Kunov, the reservoir, Sobotistie, and finally Myjava where the green hills began to roll and swell until they crested somewhere near the Polish border. My two rooms overlooked a dusty courtyard formed by three identical buildings–faded Stalinist white monsters that the Slovaks translated as a “block of flats"–a term from the British English books we used at school. In the spring and summer, swallows built their saliva nests under the balconies and in the eaves of the building. They moved in front of the windows flying in concert like schools of fish, darting and chasing their meals. Occasionally one would bash into the window, shocking me awake like an alarm clock or the thought of deep water, and fall two stories below–where my neighbor Monika would pick them up and nurse them back to health.
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