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every other man

The light outside the main entrance to our building has gone out again. The heavy metal door swings wide as I pull a hat down over my ears. In the darkness there are maybe twenty teenagers standing still. My boot scrapes across the ground, slowing down. Their hands in pockets, shoulders hunched, I look for a space to pass between them. A voice appears, saying hello in English, with an obvious accent. I am all instinct, sayingpivyet as I pass, not looking back, wondering who said this. There was a boy that was an extra in Blackbetty that lives in our building, but he is too young, too short for it to have been him.

I look back, navigating the puddles in the street. It does not make any sense.

N is with V, making their way home. I meet them, pulling V into my arms as she chatters about her day, about dry leaves and princesses, about her grandmother's apartment and what she ate there. We are going back home, and I try to explain the odd collection that stands outside. As we pass th…

no rain on the parade

There are countless new flags hanging limp and dusty above the sidewalk. It reminds me of the Fourth of July when we lived in the country. The local newspaper would print a special center page spread with red ink for the stripes. Everyone would scotch tape their newspaper flag to a window that faced the street, leaving them for weeks in the long summer sun until they faded and yellowed, forgotten like Christmas tree ornaments they could not bring themselves to take down.

There are drunks in the street in the middle of the day, their arms hanging across the shoulders of girls in stilettos as they swear and spit and stumble across the pavement. The air is half-electric as I weave around them with a bag of groceries tucked under one arm. The air is dry. It is always like this on the First of May in Moscow, a day for the workers. There are planes spreading chemicals across the clouds in the sky so it will not rain. Things can be very literal here. No one can rain on the worker's parade, not even God or Mother Nature.

The line of old women selling polyester blouses runs along the walk home. The giant one like a battleship sits in front of boxes of strawberries. Lurking behind a sign for Luis Vuitton, a frail man with white hair holds bouquets of tiny purple flowers. My head jerks towards him. I am convinced they smell like grape soda. He smiles at me, mumbling words I cannot remotely understand. The little bouquets are wrapped carefully in cellophane and red thread. I ask him how much they are, buying three for 150 rubles.

N loves them, closing her eyes and breathing them in deep. She says they are hyacinths. "Geeyasinth." She pronounces, the way Russians call them.

Looking outside the windows once E is better, after I have stopped coughing and sneezing I see that the trees are full of leaves, the grass growing wet and tall. Spring has arrived almost overnight and it feels like some kind of betrayal. The little flowers growing in the dirt look surreal, fake.

It all bears suspicion, impossible.

The days are running away and I do not know what I have to show for it. The pile of pages sit near the bed, unmoved. The guitars in the hallway have dust across them, proof they have not been played. N has been storming through the rooms with garbage bags and the vacuum. She attacks the windows, the messy balcony, the closets, all vulnerable to her work. The house shines. I see the floor as if for the first time. Shirts are piled in neat rows. A load of laundry hangs on the white rack, drying. I feel guilty just watching her.

The house now in order, she rests. I take out the garbage, tote E's old bike down to one of the guards to see if he wants it for his daughter.


oldswimmer said…
This blog is a rare find. Thank you for your impressionistic art.
Annie said…
Beautiful, as usual....
Rubye Jack said…
"The house is in order."
It's always a good feeling to have things in their places. If only our life could have such order. But maybe not.

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