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“The Russian Likes To Remember…

“The Russian likes to remember, he does not like to live.”  Chekhov

Living is fraught with uncertainty.  Living is fraught with peril.   Living is nothing if not a stew of ambiguities.  Living demands effort.  Living is work.  Living is always poised near the cliff of annihilation even on a sunny spring afternoon of a near ideal temperature.  Living is fleeting, always charged with the dynamic bodily necessities of tomorrow and the day after.  Living involves real other people who are endlessly disappointed and disappointing and who are never quite what they seem, so we are always shaking our heads over what poor judges of character we have been

I think that I may be more Russian than I have ever realized.

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A baby rabbit

flushed from the liriope,

still, stares, slips back in

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The Morning Dew

In pride my bare feet crushed the dew of the morning field, before life taught me   I was as the dew, nothing more than mist that had cooled into a tiny reflective globe   I apologize for who I used to be, fleeting marauder of what I failed to understand   Remorse is not the end of wisdom, but yet it seems a beginning, as I walk mornings   That I never imagined, my feet more worn and yet more tender as I’m beside the... read more

1591 Compton Road

1591 Compton Road   When you  live in a house, you hardly see it.  Of course, you see it, but you take seeing it for granted,  It becomes a habit.  You see it automatically, but without intention, without attention, without appetite or invention.  It is just there which approximates not being there.  Then you add time and distance, all the accumulated incidents, accidents, passions and pleasures and defeats of living.  It is submerged.  Or better yet, it is buried in your life.   Then a friend shows you a picture he has taken in the far off city of your birth.  A picture of the house, changed but recognizably itself.  The hundred year old elms are gone.  The luxuriant rhododendrons and mountain laurels flanking the steps up to the front porch are gone.  But the house, with its two dour gray wings, one a library, one a screened in porch, is more than reminiscent.    There is a shock  of recognition, like a depth charge in my mind.  Not only is the house reanimated, rescued from the accustomed dullness of habit, but so many memories come flooding back of when I lived in that house and all that I lived in that house.  The house is suddenly living and ferociously so.  I have trouble sleeping the night after I see the picture, this portrait of a being with whom I was intimate.  Or perhaps the tense is wrong : this portrait of a being with whom I am intimate.   I do not simply wander the house and the yard, but also the halls of time.  I smell the... read more


I do not remember my childhood with fondness.  Of course, it was not all of a piece.  Some pieces were better than the rest and better in different ways.   There were moments of delight, moments of sensory discovery, moments of absorbing mystery even before I discovered books.    I was immersed in it.  In a non-trivial way, too, I have remained immersed in it throughout the course of my  life   It is a puzzle to me why I do not remember my childhood with fondness.   My first thought  is that there was so much fear.   Unspoken fear was part of the atmosphere.    I inhaled it without knowing its name, let alone what it was or why it was.    I do not know if the unspoken becomes unspeakable or if the unspeakable permeates as the unspoken. But these are presences.  I was permeated by the unspoken fearfulness and so became afraid myself.   I was born very shortly after the end of the Second World War into a Jewish family.  I was a new hope and a new hazard,   What language does fear speak?  How does it communicate?  How does it infect?  Fear speaks in the eyes.  It speaks through  the eyes.  It speaks in  a whole range of gazes, some that look penetratingly, some that look away so as not to see what is there to be seen.  It speaks in the throat, in the music that the voice composes.  It speaks in the jaw, in the neck,  in the set of the shoulders, down the arms into the hands and their postures,  imploring  and deploring.   It sneaks... read more