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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…

of patriots


There are parades going on now, jets screaming overhead in formation. There are crowds, and military bands, supposedly a new tank on display. But that is in Red Square, and like any wise foreigner I am inside, tucked in a corner far from the center of the city, working on another Russian holiday.

Going for a walk in the late afternoon, we push the stroller hoping V will find sleep for at least an hour or so. There is a forest with a path, dirt lines curving into a thick collection of trees, the occasional bridge over brown water. Normally, this place is marked by old people and children on little scooters. It is a quiet acre where birds and insects flit around.

Today, every hundred feet offers another clump of people crouched around small grills. There are giant clouds of smoke. Some smell good, some smell like jet fuel. The sun is reaching into the forest before it sets. Children wear soldier's hats, with sticks they whack against leaves shouting words I do not hear. There are families, and collections of young people. They look at us as we roll past, with long, blank stares. No small nod of the head, no acknowledgment, no tip of the beer bottle.

There are groups of migrants too, men with black hair and low pointy shoes, squatting on flattened cardboard boxes in small circles. They do not even look, faces to the center, speaking in low voices.

There is one drunk man, shoving and arguing with another less-drunk man. I am trying to take pictures with my Leica, the smoke and the trees are too good to pass up and N is telling me to put the camera away, to follow her, to keep moving.





Comments

liv said…
Please tell N I wish her a Happy Mother's day, a bit late because of the time difference, but none the less with heartfelt joy.

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