Saturday, February 01, 2014

House of Alaska III

In the garden of the House of Alaska flourished lettuce, peas, cabbage, broccoli, carrots and cauliflower, welcome additions to a frugal diet in which Pilot Bread and tinned kippers often figured. It was also an abundant source of pig-weed, which one could drop off at the barn.

The House of Alaska was built on the lip of a great bowl-shaped valley, facing the Wrangell Mountains. If one traipsed out to the end of the driveway to the Edgerton Cutoff on a walk, the road appeared as a thin slate ribbon dipping through steep terraces, down, down through the trees until it seemed to lose its way somewhere in the direction of the mountains.

Yellow cinquefoil clung to the gravel on the side of the road. Cottongrass announced the presence of water: a small creek, flowing through a culvert near the driveway. Crouched down, my sister and I would creep through the echoing culvert, collecting pebbles, listening to the echoes of our steps and observing water-bugs. When we struck the edge of the culvert with a rock, it yelped with a strange, guttural chime.

On the other side of the Edgerton, Keith Murray's place was visible. Our closest neighbor had opted to erect a small cabin and several tar-paper teepees from fire-kill, the local version of tinker toys. Keith's goats found shelter either in the cabin with him, or in the teepees. The goats, bells a-tinkling, and Keith wandered out each morning between the aspens to forage. His scruffy beard nearly matched that of the billies. Nubs of wool sock-clad toes peered out through the fronts of his worn-out tennis shoes.

More hippies began to arrive at the homestead. They found an abandoned cabin on the Old Road, the dirt version of the Edgerton, and decided to haul it, log by log, back to the farm, and chose a place with the best view of the majestic Wrangells, directly above the cleared field, as its new home. The House of Alaska was bursting at the seams. The lucky ones were spending their nights in a turquoise Mexican schoolbus fitted with bunk-beds.

During the days, the men and bandana-clad women persisted in their labor in the fields. Tree-roots were pushed by the tractor into burn-piles that smoldered all summer long. Everyone assisted in the assembling of the new-old cabin, digging a root cellar in the silty sand, cribbing it off. Even we twins helped press the bits of insulation--chinking--into hot tar between the logs.

If we needed to wash our clothes, we'd drive over to do laundry at a lodge near the green-grey Tonsina River. There, a temporary camp had sprung up for Pipeline laborers. Someone there had sprayed the entire exterior of a trailer with urethane. It looked like an extremely ugly mushroom. But it was the way someone had managed to survive the bitter cold.

When the nights grew shorter and the valley glowed from the changing leaves of the aspens, it was decided that we needed to pack our sleeping bags and head back from whence we had come. We were not yet ready to spend a winter in the bush.

House of Alaska II

Mooner was the head of the dog team. While the rest of the dogs would rear up, barking, at the approach of a human, their thick fur ruffs sticking out like lions' manes, his behavior was more dignified and subdued; he allowed us to approach at pet him.

Dinner for the dogs meant the boiling of a murky paste of oatmeal and fish-heads in a cauldron. A portion of the resulting mess would be slopped into each dog's hub-cap. The team slurped it up ravenously.

Dispersed among the singing aspens and spruces surrounding the cabin were fire-killed trees, who had come to their ends in some catastrophe decades before, and could now be collected for the needs of the cast iron cook-stove. In the undergrowth, a world of textures and scents awaited inquiring senses: crackling dry leaves, the lime-green, rounded edges of blueberry bushes, pungent, sweet and spicy spikes of Labrador tea, and creeping nagoon berries--rare, ruby raspberry-like wine-jewels.

Behind the cabin lurked an outhouse with styrofoam seats, for unmentionable needs. Toilet paper was doled out by the square; when it was in short supply, old phone books residing near the seats became a source of more than just reading material.

The barn was shared by pigs and goats, the odd barn-cat or two, and was inhabited by musty smells, squeals, shuffles and meh-eh-eh-ings.

In the center of the dim cabin grew a miniature, golden-green grapefruit tree, emerging improbably from a seed planted in a clay-fired pot, gladdening the eye even more than the kerosene lanterns.

If one were in the mood to hide from the grown-ups, one could slide behind the visqueen drapes of the unfinished upstairs and listen to them converse. A bright rectangle of insulation lured one's feet: perhaps it was the gateway to another world. Alas! this gateway, labeled Owens Corning on its other side, led directly to a precipitous plunge onto the back of the collie Hepsibah, one floor below. Ever after, Hepsibah, also known as Hepsi, eyed me with suspicion and nipped at me whenever I approached.

Friday, January 31, 2014

The House of Alaska

Utopia is a fictional island situated in the center of the ocean, or so some have said. However, the idea of creating one's own personal utopia in the midst of the wilderness was institutionalized in the United States during the Civil War by the Homestead Act. Intrepid, would-be pioneers continued to claim land under this Act in the "last frontier" until well into the second half of the 20th century.

Women find themselves in an peculiar position when it comes to the construction of an utopia, or a homestead. For them, pain means pain, and blood denotes actual blood--not mere ideas that can be swept away for the sake of a hoped-for revolution--or in the process of clearing a field.

A mythical epistle arrived in our letter-box one day in the mile-high city: a note from a woman--an invitation, and a cry for help. Here, wrote one friend to another, I am, stranded out on this homestead. We have not yet proven up our 160 acres. Planting a barley-field in aspen-infested permafrost is not for the faint of heart. My husband has been hired to work on the Pipeline, which means we will be able to afford to buy powdered milk. And I have just had a baby, so I am not much good with the old John Deere. Just think! I know you admire adventure. Call upon your friends, draft-dodgers or drifters or whomever, and tell them they can stay here for free, if they will help us rip the trees out and plant grain. Come to the land of the silt-churned Copper River, where the fishwheels turn and the fireweed waves.

And that is how we found ourselves packed willy-nilly into a khaki Datsun 510 with a car-top carrier: two women, two girls, and two Frostline tents, blasting our way through a salt storm in Utah on the way to Canada.

The voice of the road was a harsh, gravelly, dust-filled roar, enveloping each vehicle in its own isolation chamber. The windshield of the Datsun collected the yellow, green and brown spatter of insect-bodies until we stopped to wash scrub them off. Oatmeal, at breakfast, floated in a bowl with specks of ash from a campfire after we emerged, swish-swish, from our sleeping bags.

Embarking on a ferry was a welcome respite from the road: there were stairs to clamber up and down, windows to peek through, unfamiliar fogs and mists to breathe. At night, you rolled around in your bag on a cot and closed your eyes, so glad not to be bumping the edges of a wet tent. During the day, further adventures awaited: once, a Japanese tourist fortuitously managed to pick the lock of our car, when we accidentally locked our keys in the trunk while rummaging in the cooler.

Where is the House of Alaska, we pestered, back in the car rumbling along the AlCan, a narrow highway snaking through the Yukon. Then, there was a sign that read, Alaska, but no house. Mosquitoes there were aplenty, and stunted spruces emerging like bottle-brushes from mossy swamps. Stretching our legs, we wandered out onto the sand-bars of  braided rivers, teddy bears in tow. Snow-capped mountains loomed in the distance. But the promised house bided its time.

Finally, just when the Rye-Crisp and cheese supply had dwindled, and the nerves of  the women were jangled to their edges by the questions, Are We There Yet and Where is the House of Alaska, the little green car stopped in front of a log cabin, a ramshackle lean-to barn, and a random scattering of doghouses. The team of dogs greeted us enthusiastically, jumping up and down on their hub-cap dishes--perhaps we were the harbingers of dinner. A baby clung to the side of a dark-haired woman in spectacles, leaning against an ancient black truck. A freckled man sporting a long red pony-tail sized up us two girls and exclaimed in a booming voice, "Well hello, you big little devils. Welcome to the House of Alaska."

St. Brigid's Day

I am older than Brigit of the Mantle,
I put songs and music on the wind
Before ever the bells of the chapels
Were rung in the West
Or heard in the East.
I am Brighid-nam-Bratta:
Brigit of the Mantle,

I am also Brighid-Muirghin-na-tuinne:
Brigit, Conception of the Waves,

And Brighid-sluagh,
Brigit of the Faery Host,

Brigit of the Slim Faery Folk,

Brigit the Melodious Mouthed
Of the Tribe of the Green Mantles.

And I am older than Aone (Friday)
And as old as Luan (Monday)

And in Tir-na-h’oige my name is
Suibhal: Mountain Traveler,

And in Tir-fo-thuinn, Country of the Waves,
It is Cu-gorm: Gray Hound,

And in Tir-na-h’oise,
Country of Ancient Years,
It is Sireadh-thall: Seek Beyond.

And I have been a breath in your heart,
And the day has its feet to it
That will see me coming
Into the hearts of men and women
Like a flame upon dry grass,
Like a flame of wind in a great wood.

Fiona MacLeod / William Sharp


For Yolanda: Red Ophelia

Red Ophelia's hands on paper--
Words inscribed in her own blood--
Has  forgotten what is water,
Shy Gypsy in a crimson dress.

Brigid, mistress of the mantle,
Lend you fire, bring you joy--
Come visit me in the forest,
Green Ophelia of the Trees.
Words mar a silence once conjured by verse,
To speak or to hold back is the same wound.
Paradox of presence and absence,
This planet is too crowded for my heart,
Too blissful for a soul folded with yours.
You have caused me to become what I am:
Not a poem, but a living woman.
Breathing you in, unable to exhale,
You are nearer to me than my own thoughts,
And too far away for my bones to bear.

This is an untitled piece. I am posting it for feedback or discussion purposes, since it is an unusual direction for my writing to wander in. I was inspired to write it after listening to a lecture by Joseph Brodsky, while savoring his Leningrad (Piter) accent. I am not very happy with it, but I'll let it settle and then return to it.

Here--a photo of Brodsky without his glasses on--but with a cat.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Romances (Романсы): Verse and Voice

In Russian, the word "romance" denotes a symbiosis of poetry and music. An art song, if you will, stretched on a taut wire between the two poles of high opera and spontaneous Gypsy-like expression. Originally, this category of songs was associated with the upper classes, but later on--it became accessible, and was favored by anyone who had a friend with a guitar and a passable voice. Or, by anyone who had a ticket to the "kino." Involved in the creation of a romance are several persons: the composer, singer, lyricist/poet, and accompanying musicians, or sometimes actors/actresses. Romances are subject to individual interpretation, which causes each performance to be unique in its color and mood. The results of these efforts include some of the following songs:

Here is a romance composed by Rachmaninoff. Anna Netrebko, singing "It is good to be here..."

Nicolai Gedda, whose voice lent itself to either opera or romance. Here, Однозвучно гремит колоколчик (The sleigh-bell repeatedly ringing..., often translated as "monotonously rings a bell" -- but this song is NOT monotonous!) If one repeats the name, Nicolai Gedda three times, one transforms into a mermaid. Listen to this tenor with caution.

Because one Nicolai Gedda song is not enough: "Foggy morning."
As another YouTube user put it: "Боже! Какой голос!"

Galina Kareva croons "Two Guitars."

Anastasia Vertinskaya, moaning, "Don't awaken remembrance..."

"Cruel Romance" is at once the name of a sub-category of romances, and the title of a film. Here, Valentina Ponamareva sings Tsvetaeva's poem, "Beneath the caress of a plush throw..."

Alla Pugacheva's voice, behind the pretty face of a Polish actress, Barbara Brylska, singing Akhmadulina's poem, "On my street..."

Simply for enjoyment, an entire musical-poetic-presentation of the poems of Marina Tsvetaeva, read by A. Freindlich.
Oh myyyyyy.

When I think of someone in the West who could transform almost any song into a "romance," Judy Collins comes to mind.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Muscato Mothers (for Chris)

"I have the hiccups, mom."

"Come here. Now, look in my eyes, straight into them."


"Now you MUST hiccup while you are staring at me. Come on, I dare you."

Silence. The hiccups have been conjured from whence they came.

That is the way she rolls, smooth and cool and seemingly untouchable--with an intoxicating twinkle in her eyes. I want to kneel at her feet as before Hillel. From her--there are always further revelations.

We take another sip into our conversation, punctuated by belly-laughter. There are a more than a few miles between us. We have untangled, then rolled up skein after skein of one another's tears, aches and secrets and then stored them securely in the cupboard of friendship.

How many years, how many generations has she been gathering under her wings? By my count, this is the third. Does she remember the time her son set himself on fire, entirely by accident? Or when the snow fort collapsed with everyone inside? The children she could not refuse to take, the ones she saved, the ones she could not? The baby girl, born addicted, now wiser than a Shaker spindle? Documents, she says--you taught me to be a pit-bull with the paperwork.

Did I remember the time my son recited video game and Lego statistics for an hour? Or when she said, "Maybe you shouldn't." "Yes, you must." And I did both? The three boys who learned how to become, who found their voices because of our stubborn-ness and mad patience? It is always about the children. No, it isn't. It's about all of us as a piece, inseparable, mother-and-son-and-daughter-packages.

What about our daughters, who--separately-- stepped out into the nights to think, and returned with their minds on fire, their destinies in sight, rocket-ready? How glad we are that they are smarter than us!

She is contemplating the option of poison: odorless, tasteless, painless. To make him go away. Should I mention Roald Dahl's story about the landlady and the cup of bitter almonds?

Here is where we are most deeply sisters: we are both love-monsters. We, the ignored, the underestimated, have repeatedly given more than our all, worked, schemed, planned, trudged, saved--until so much pent-up love has been stored up in us that we've become the Niagra Falls of abundant affection. Who could possibly handle either of us?

"I'm serious," she says. "About that poison."

Ah, Muscato, why are you not grappa? We are in need of a more potent potion, now!--but the topic rolls around. Mellowed by companionship, we remain enmeshed in the process of distillation.

By tomorrow, we should be nearly as heady as rakija.

Rachmaninoff, my favorite Rach star

It does not get much more Rachmaninoff than listening to him play his own Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor. I'd even settle, in a pinch, for the recordings from the piano rolls, but this is...special. Here, I found a full version of the Concerto, although the user comments say the recording is spliced.

The second could I have survived so many hours this day without hearing its message? It is improbable and impossible.

Two cursory Rachmaninoff-related translations:

Some correspondence between the poet Severyanin and Rachmaninoff is available online. Rachmaninoff provided Severyanin financial assistance on more than one occasion, from pure generosity of heart--and in gratitude for the inspiration the writer provided for his compositions.

Igor Severyanin

They All Say the Same Thing

To S.V. Rachmaninoff

Nightingales in the monastery garden,
Just like all nightingales on earth,
Speak of only one consolation,
And this joy - is in love ...

And the flowers of the monastery meadow,
With a tenderness peculiar to blossoms
Say that there is one merit:
To touch the beloved's mouth ...

The lakes of the monastery forest
Are overflowing with blueness,
They say there is no more azure gaze,
Than of the one in love and the beloved.

Игорь Северянин


                     С. В. Рахманинову

Соловьи монастырского сада,
Как и все на земле соловьи,
Говорят, что одна есть отрада
И что эта отрада - в любви...

И цветы монастырского луга
С лаской, свойственной только цветам,
Говорят, что одна есть заслуга:
Прикоснуться к любимым устам...

Монастырского леса озера,
Переполненные голубым,
Говорят: нет лазурнее взора,
Как у тех, кто влюблен и любим...

I found a recent, affectionate stishok (poem) online in honor of the composer:


(By Ilya Ragulin, dedicated to Natalia Narochnitskaya)

As a favorite son - the best of sons,
Wept the musician Serzh Rachmaninoff,
Shed bitter tears for his native country,
Drenched in blood, and on fire.

He gave a benefit concert for Stalin
So the Red Army could buy a plane.
Chandeliers burned, the floor gleamed -
The famous hall awaited his entrance. *

For the blue sky, for the rustling birches
Is this rain of music - a maelstrom of sweet dreams.
Spikes of darkness ripen in a rye field ...
So many Seryozh put to rest for Berlin.

For those soldiers burn eternal flames.
Every year they'll await his entrance--
To the Second concert, sacred to every Russian,
That Rachmaninoff composed.

*According to the author of this poem, Rachmaninoff gave benefit concerts in Carnegie Hall and donated all of the money to the Red Army Fund; the army was then able to purchase a plane for combat.


Наталии Нарочницкой

Как любимый сын - лучший из сынов,
Плакал музыкант Серж Рахманинофф.
Скорбно слёзы лил по родной стране,
Что в крови была, что была в огне.

В пользу Сталина он концерт даёт:
Красной Армии купят самолёт.
Хрустали горят, и ворсится пол -
Ждет вступления знаменитый холл.*

Небом голубым, шелестом берёз
Льётся музыка - омут милых грёз.
Тьмою колосков зреет в поле рожь...
Столько за Берлин полегло Серёж.

Жгут для тех солдат Вечные огни.
Ждут вступления каждый год они -
Во Второй концерт, что всем русским мил,
Что Рахманинов сочинил.

Piano Concerto No. 3, also performed by Rachmaninoff.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bones of a Generous Woman - Phibby Venable

To savor the words of a living writer is one of the purest delights possible, in my opinion.

This morning, I'm reading the poetry of Phibby Venable, from a book just released, "Bones of a Generous Woman." Here are a few samples.

The Next Stone I Turn

The next stone I turn will be an apple
still lost in the memory of pink and white blossoms
soft with the overtaste of vinegar
vigorously holding to the solid ground
We will sit together in an acidic understanding
the gift of sweetness tinged with a tang
and a sodden forgiveness
The first blush will be something
we linger over without regret
each of us braced in original juicing
each of us lingering in the fortitude of trees,
staring without blindness
into the warm eyes of the sun.

Black Scream

There is the sound of the 3 am train
a black scream in a hurry to somewhere
the Hummingbird out of Nashville rushing
in a northward compass through the night
And I am dropping sleep to listen
to the steady power and shaking
of tracks that rumble to a steady decrease.........

..The people I pass are beloved, vague
as the blue fog that lifts angelic
across the moisture of the mountains
until I am one small passenger sitting
my eyes deer soft and waving.


I think this is what I enjoy most about Phibby's poems: her gentle observations, the chance to catch a glimpse of life in the Blue Mountains through her soft eyes.

windy corner

When the door's ajar,
Sleep is a blank page
Imprinted by dreams
Meandering through
The night-meadows,
Where the sea-air flits,
Yearns to grant a kiss
To your wise, wise eyes--

You, wild violet stealth
Born of fiercest chill,
Grass of Parnassus,
Absurd blue poppies,
Shattering cold rocks
On a slate scree slope.

Monday, January 27, 2014


Moss gathers in lost footsteps,
Silence speaks of tree-time
Counted in sycamore rings.
Delta breeze sweeps in,
Rasping through the drought grass
And a scroll's scorched pages.

Memory kaleidoscopes.
A caged river sinks, diminished.
Under a linden, a shadow pair
Flickers verdigris into dark,
As peacock fringes fade
Under a curtain of leaves
And obscurity of verse.

Thirst chants a parched song
And a green moon listens.

Northern Nights

Let us begin at sunset, and what it is not like, in the North. It is not a dark blanket, a velvet curtain enfolding the sun and tucking it away in a manner of moments, like in the Lower 48. But I digress.

Sunset in Alaska, in winter, is a painstaking, drawn-out affair, an amber-orange twilight which can last hours, especially when there is snow-cover, and begins early, while the children shuffle their way home from school. The presence of the snow captures and reflects artificial light, which glows like marmalade and fades slowly, imperceptibly, into gray, then into dusk. The dance of twilight and snow is enchanting, it absorbs all sensations and sounds into its muffled spell, and one does not feel like speaking aloud.

When the dark finally does come, if the night is clear, and one pulls on a warm coat and ventures outdoors, the familiar stars appear: the Great Dipper, Queen Cassiopeia, Orion.

One New Year's, I went out and saw the entire black arc of heaven filled with bright, flickering green swatches of Aurora. A most dramatic display occurred one night several years ago, just as Vespers finished at a local church. The parishioners exited in their usual noisy way onto the porch, and everyone gasped in surprise at the glory in the sky, at the sudden bright slashes in every direction. I ran out past the crowd, in a hurry to tell anyone, everyone, no-one, to let my soul be all eyes. The most common colors of the aurora include dancing gleams of green and white, but sometimes we see red, purple or other colors. That night the sky was alive with teal and red streaks, pulsing, rippling, clotting and bursting with joy.

Morning may arrive in the winter like a nasty hangover; then we must do violence to pry ourselves from our blankets and trundle ourselves to school or work in the dark. The mountains flush pink with the promise of an anemic sunrise. The color of the sky during the day is often the same color that it is during the summer at midnight: nearly skim-milk. But then there are the days when the snow sparkles in the sun and the sky becomes a true cerulean, glad of its own existence. This jewel-toned blue is unique to wintertime framed by the hills.

The amount of light allotted to us increases during spring, then summer, until it reaches an almost unbearable, feverish quantity, in June. Then, the plush green of the leaves becomes a constant giddy symphony, but one must guard against the insidious invasion of the light, the white nights, into one's dreams.

The Righteous Among the Nations - Mother Maria Skobstova (Yelizaveta Pilenko)

Yad Vashem recognizes the Skobstova family in its Righteous Among the Nations.

Mother Maria Skobtsova (Yelizaveta Skobtsova, née Pilenko), also known as "the rebel nun," was one of my inspirations as a young person, and continues to inspire to this day.  Born to an aristocratic Russian family in Riga, Latvia, she was variously an atheist, a Bolshevik (she even planned Trotsky's assassination once), a Catholic, and a poet--she was married twice, but took monastic vows as an Orthodox nun at age 40 and devoted herself to serving others, especially immigrants. She created a home in Paris for those in need, feeding and clothing as many as she could. In July 1942, when the Jews of Paris were ordered to wear yellow stars, she wrote this poem:


Two triangles, a star,
The shield of King David, our forefather.
This is election, not offense.
The great path and not an evil.
Once more in a term fulfilled,
Once more roars the trumpet of the end;
And the fate of a great people
Once more is by the prophet proclaimed.
Thou art persecuted again, O Israel,
But what can human malice mean to thee,
who have heard the thunder from Sinai?

Mother Maria thought everyone in Paris should be wearing the yellow star. "If we were true Christians we would all wear the Star," she was quoted as saying. She and her associate Fr. Klepenin used their status as members of the clergy to enter a stadium where detainees were held, issue many false baptism certificates, to smuggle children out of Paris in refuse bins, and feed the detainees.

Yad Vashem states, "the parcels saved them from starvation between December 1941 and March 1942. One of the hostages, Georges Wellers, testified to this operation. On March 26, 1942, Father Klepinin gave Wellers’ wife, Anne, a false baptismal certificate. As a consequence,” wrote the historian Wellers, “I was not deported [before June 30, 1944], nor was my wife nor our children.” Mother Maria, together with her son Yuri, and Father Dimitri, were arrested and interrogated in February 1943. Dimitri Klepinin and Yuri Skobtsov were transferred to Buchenwald camp and then to Dora, where they died in February 1944. Mother Maria was deported to the Ravensbrück camp, where she perished on March 31, 1945."

"However hard I try, I find it impossible to construct anything greater than these three words, 'Love one another' —only to the end, and without exceptions: then all is justified and life is illumined, whereas otherwise it is an abomination and a burden."

--Mother Maria Skobtsova

Sunday, January 26, 2014

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

"The Holocaust, which established the standard for absolute evil, is the universal heritage of all civilized people."

A link to Yad Vashem's Facebook page to join in the memorial wall:

Yad Vashem - International Holocaust Remembrance Day

And  a presentation by Yad Vashem on International Holocaust Memorial Day

A remembrance in the Moscow Jewish Museum

Wind Mothers

A sea bell chimes into your dreams. West wind invades the night, weaving tapestries of war and grief. On one side of the street, a line of soldiers; on the other, stand their grandmothers holding mirrors, guarding boys with stones in their hands.

The fathers have strapped themselves into burned-out metal cages and do not want to watch. They lift steaming cups to their lips. They pretend to speak to one another through echoing walls. Icicles form on the edges of their cages; they roar in mock triumph.

Missing are the mothers, who have been chasing after not-enough in a desert, running toward a mirage in the sinking sands.

A woman is kneeling in the garden, moaning in pain. She bows in all four directions to the earth. When she walks away, the ground is wet with her blood. How can there be so much blood in one woman, the garden sighs its question. The seeds are crying. There is not enough rain, or too much this year.

There is a boy they could call a man of god: he has no father, he has no mother. Alyosha lives above a courtyard, watching his parents come and go through a window. He walks out into the daylight, but they fail to recognize him. He becomes transparent and steps into a cloud, holding a rose. Wind-mothers bear him where he wants to go.

You wake early and reach for your wallet. No one has stolen it yet today, but your heart is racing and you are in a hurry to begin working, just in case. More, more, you must do more. You are the mother-father and there are no understudies. Children rush to school and study how to avoid gang-fights. If they are lucky, they find a hallway marked: here is a place to learn.

You fall into a doze and there is the wind again, wrapping you in a cloak of comfort. Shhh. Alyosha, you find yourself crying out, I am sorry, if only I had been able. Shhh, says Alyosha, touching your heart with his burning rose. I know. And the wind leaves you a scarf, fragrant with this incense. You lift your head once more, and return to your task, breathing a message the wind-mothers have brought you from the trees.

the song of a shell sapphire melting inside jade a color unnamed Ofra Haza's version of this song defies categoriz...

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