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cold nostalgia

There is a note, stuck to the front entrance of our building. The hot water will be turned off for ten days. This is something that happens every summer, although it snowed a week ago and children wander the playgrounds in ski hats these days. At night it can be 40 degrees fahrenheit.  The hot water is always turned off like this, at some point during June or July. It is a long-standing Soviet tradition, and people begrudgingly accept it here. But the baby, V does not. She wants to stand in a hot bath before she goes to sleep, to splash and pour water all around her, and N. She wants to stand and wiggle her tiny hands under the spout, as she grows pink and clean, as she howls and shouts for us to see what new trick she has improvised. There is no explanation for her, why the hot water is off today, and will be tomorrow. She is angry, furious even.

I used to buy the story that this offered a chance for the water department to fix pipes, to take care of routine maintenance. Hot water c…

the broken egg


See a picture of a crying infant in rags, with tears on their tiny red face and try to feel nothing. Describe the weapons used, report what kind of gas it was breathing. Condemnations come quickly, without hesitation. Could this be a picture from a few years ago? There is no way of knowing. Could this child have died somewhere else? There is no answer to that question. There is just the news, and faith in a system. I find it maddening, to be caught questioning anything in such moments but the answers are not easy ones. We have all been fooled, over and again. I say none of this to suggest there was no attack. I say all of this because I do not trust much of anything these days. If there is a cracked egg in the box, it feels about he same as reading the news. Something is always broken, hidden, then found much later, far after the emotions have welled up, far after nights spent going to sleep imagining the horror, the sound of people dying, the smell of poison, the sense of things slipping  away into a black nothing. That dream is inescapable.

An explosion, another truck driving into crowds of people, another explosion, another city, another city, and one more city. Trains carrying bombs, men carrying bombs. The wheel turns and turns around the same center, the same unflinching eye. Maybe I am just wishing for once it is a lie, a careful fabrication. And then I understand that a lie like this is worse than the truth.

I know that E got a bad grade last week in math, and we are working to fix it. I know that the outdoor market has returned, and a lady there with missing teeth will bring some spinach for us next week. I know that the neighbors are still renovating, the buzz and rumble of drills does not cease. I know there are little green dots at the ends of branches and that the birds are flipping around a gray sky as they sing.

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