Saturday, September 16, 2017

Autumn Air

There, in a sea of
time-tossed exhaling,
longings are propelled,
high-flying like kites,
wind-washed and as pure
as polychrome streamers.

They flutter through a
cloud-dragon's jowls,
and fall, scattering
under bent branches.
No flame is ever lost
but leaves its mark on stone.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The mountains called to me.

And I answered.

After I had huffed and puffed up to the saddle between two peaks, I heard the sound of the headwaters of the eagles' favorite creek flowing in the valley ahead.

I sank into the moss. My fingers busied themselves with the task of plucking berries. They were so low to the ground, I found it best to assume a half-kneeling, half lying position where I could inhale all of the musky, fruity, nutty odors of the terrain.

A cloud passed over me, bathing me in a stinging hiss of mist. But it did not actually rain, and for that I was grateful.

Listening to the trickle of water, I was reminded of another mountain stream that I had frequently visited as a child. At around age 10, I christened it Tatiana's Stream. I had just finished reading Esther Hautzig's The Endless Steppe, and found myself fascinated by her recollection of the recitation of a portion of Evgeny Onegin: "An awesome dream Tatiana's dreaming..." (her translation) and her ultimate unfulfilled wish: to obtain a fufaika, a quilted jacket to mitigate the Siberian chills. As a veteran of the cold, I could relate. 

Those were the years when people wrote "BOMB IRAN" in the dust on dirty cars, and the Cold War tango was a slow burn. I was so painfully shy, that, when possible, I avoided social interactions, and instructed my imaginary and literary friends to follow me to the hills, where we could sit out the political storms. For good measure, we pretended to hide refugees from the Holocaust in our temporary Switzerland. And I dreamed, always, of visiting Russia. 

Little did I know that the dark blue, quilted Chinese jacket I had purchased at Salvation Army just before my first flight to Russia, so closely resembled the navy fufaikas or telogrekas, which were mainly worn by elderly villagers selling sunflower seeds, that I was nearly equated with one of them upon my arrival.

I laughed with no one and everyone at one of the grand jokes of my life: I had ended up finding a fufaika for Esther's sake, after all.

Years later, sitting on the opposite side of the mountains from Tatiana's Stream, I recalled her dream with a measure of amusement. Mountain-nymphs, do you hear me, I actually wore a fufaika!

The strangest dream Tatiana's dreaming
as if she is gliding through a snowy glade,
surrounded by a Cimmerian shade,
and in the drift before her, a shuffling,
where a dark and grey stream,
not restrained by winter's duress,
wreathes her with its rustling wave;
two perches fused by ice,
a trembling, fateful bridge,
are placed across the flow
and span the burbling creek;
and before the rumbling abyss,
burdened by confusion,
she stops cold in her tracks.

И снится чудный сон Татьяне.
Ей снится, будто бы она
Идет по снеговой поляне,
Печальной мглой окружена;
В сугробах снежных перед нею Шумит,
клубит волной своею Кипучий,
темный и седой Поток,
не скованный зимой;
Две жердочки, склеены льдиной,
Дрожащий, гибельный мосток,
Положены через поток:
И пред шумящею пучиной,
Недоумения полна,
Остановилася она.

When the wind is out of breath, I retreat to the mother-roots, to the heartwood, through dragon-whispers of darklight to the song of th...

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