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no gold (things will have to wait)

There is an old Russian expression for the inevitable moment when your neighbors begin renovating. "Searching for gold in the walls." They say, to describe the epic sounds of drills in ancient concrete. You might appreciate this odd humor, this dark joke, this survival tactic. I am not so graceful a man to wrap my thoughts around it. Those drills and grinders, they shake the very walls of our apartment. Early on Sunday mornings and often long into the evenings they go.

This has been going on for the last four months, maybe more. I stopped counting.

I cannot imagine there are any walls left, that there is an entire open floor below us, the wind whipping through the naked beams and nothing else. That is the only explanation. Or that they break down walls, build new ones, find a flaw, some grand mistake and then break all of the walls down again. Not swiftly with sledgehammers, but with one crappy old drill with a dull bit, mashing away, so that children hundreds of miles away…

Heaven is a place (where nothing ever happens)


There are days, wet and dark when the sun never comes out. The leaves are falling in silence. I am out in the street, hands shoved into warm pockets as the lights behind the windows glow from inside old apartments. The drapes are pulled closed, offering no glimpse of a kitchen table covered in plastic, no teapot, no steam, no plate of cookies. Fancy cars gun their engines on these twisted back streets. All at one once a throaty roar as they rush off to nowhere. Old men and women pull little carts on squeaky wheels, a plaid flap bouncing on top, inside a bag of potatoes, a package of herring, a tube of mayonnaise, maybe a small bottle of vodka.

Sometimes, the quiet feels suffocating. Sometimes it feels rare. Nothing happens here beyond a store closing, another taking its place. Maybe a market is selling wild honey. Maybe a tree falls down. Maybe the water will go up to our ankles for a day before it runs into the forest.

I hear the news of another shooting, this time in a small Texas town. I can imagine it is similar, that hushed little village. A place where you know the person that brings the mail, and who sells the milk. A place you might feel safe, because nothing happens there. Until it does.




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