by Bella Akhmadulina. Translated by Yevgeny Bonver.
Rain flogs my face and collar-bones,
a thunderstorm roars over musts.
You thrust upon my flesh and soul,
like tempests upon ships do thrust.
I do not want, at all, to know,
what will befall to me the next -
would I be smashed against my woe,
or thrown into happiness.
In awe and gaiety elated,
like a ship, that’s going tempests through,
I am not sorry that I’ve met you,
and not afraid to love you, too.
An excerpt from “Independent People” by Halldor Laxness
“Shortly afterwards it started raining, very innocently at first, but the sky was packed tight with cloud and gradually the drops grew bigger and heavier, until it was autumn’s dismal rain that was falling—rain that seemed to fill the entire world with its leaden beat, rain suggestive in its dreariness of everlasting waterfalls between the planets, rain that thatched the heavens with drabness and brooded oppressively over the whole countryside, like a disease, strong in the power of its flat, unvarying monotony, its smothering heaviness, its cold, unrelenting cruelty. Smoothly, smoothly it fell, over the whole shire, over the fallen marsh grass, over the troubled lake, the iron-grey gravel flats, the sombre mountain above the croft, smudging out every prospect. And the heavy, hopeless, interminable beat wormed its way into every crevice in the house, lay like a pad of cotton wool over the ears, and embraced everything, both near and far, in its compass, like an unromantic story from life itself that has no rhythm and no crescendo, no climax, but which is nevertheless overwhelming in its scope, terrifying in its significance. And at the bottom of this unfathomed ocean of teeming rain sat the little house and its one neurotic woman.”
by Kazin Ali
With thick strokes of ink the sky fills with rain.
Pretending to run for cover but secretly praying for more rain.
Over the echo of the water, I hear a voice saying my name.
No one in the city moves under the quick sightless rain.
The pages of my notebook soak, then curl. I’ve written:
“Yogis opened their mouths for hours to drink the rain.”
The sky is a bowl of dark water, rinsing your face.
The window trembles; liquid glass could shatter into rain.
I am a dark bowl, waiting to be filled.
If I open my mouth now, I could drown in the rain.
I hurry home as though someone is there waiting for me.
The night collapses into your skin. I am the rain.
Tell me how many beads there are In a silver chain Of evening rain, Unravelled from the tumbling main, And threading the eye of a yellow star: - So many times do I love again. ~Thomas Lovell Beddoes
My dog did not eat my son’s homework; instead she ate his tie for the concert. Being a natural girl, she preferred the silky, designer, light blue accessory to a white, wrinkled piece of paper with the scribbles that you would need a magnifying glass and strong decoding skills to read. Who can blame her? She was home by herself with the bright toy positioned on the dinning chair right in front of her face. It looked too delicious to be ignored. She attacked it with the vengeance, so that by the time my husband came home only the half of it was left.
A few weeks before the concert my son’s conscience usually starts telling him that maybe it’s the time to start practicing. He knows that it is the right, but very hard thing to do. He had a very busy schedule, especially during the week, but pledged to spend a half hour Friday to Sunday working on these “fast notes” he was having trouble with.
He is also being eaten by guilt that we spent money on buying the viola based on his intention of practicing on the regular basis; but 8 months into the school year it is still gathering dust under the table in his room. He practiced only once in this period of time, but it was enough to establish that he did not like how this viola sounded; the quality of the instrument was poor; he could not sustain his plans for practicing and, therefore, without further a due, the viola should be returned, so that at least part of the money could be recouped. I debated that if he started practicing, the money would become well spent; plus considering that he wanted to continue the orchestra next year it made no sense to return it… Finally, I agreed to ask about a trade-off while visiting Sam-Ash to replace the A string he broke during his only practice. After staying in line for longer that his the one and the only practice lasted, and paying $7.50 for the new string (the work was covered by a warranty we purchased anticipating a lot of broken strings due to heavy use of an instrument) we were promised half the price if returned at the end of school year. My son is thinking about it.
Now that we were clear on the viola situation and the practicing schedule, we could move on to the wardrobe. The music teacher wanted to stay with the black pants and shoes, but to go “springy” on the top. She never did it before, and in her own words “was using this year’s orchestra as the guinea pigs” to test how “the rainbow” musicians would look on stage. The visit to the mall became unavoidable.
Looking for the shirt I asked neatly –dressed, ready-to-help salesmen to measure my son’s neck. Panicking, realizing that he had nowhere to run, he gave me a killer look, virtually asking me if I was nuts. Never shopping for the formal clothes before, he did not know that the shirt sizes go by the neck size and the sleeves length, that to look sharp the clothes should be fitted, and kept on the hanger in the closet, that the shoes should be polished, and the belt should match the shoes. It also would not hurt to shave and to comb the hair. Can I also throw in ironing and tying a tie, or am I asking for too much? There are certain situations, in which looking like a shmuck is not appropriate, and the concert is one of them.
Settling on the lavender shirt, picking the “right” tie was proven to be particularly difficult. It was supposed to be plain, in a nice, bright color, and to match the shirt. Plain meaning plain. Even if there is some tiny line hardly detectable by a powerful microscope it is not plain. All the final choices came with the price that even after a discount was still too high. I don’t know why the ties cost more than a shirt or a pair of pants; what makes them so valuable. And they are way too expensive if consumed as a gourmet dog food.
While I was dropping my son off at school an hour before the concert the school called to inform us that there was a power outage and the concert might be canceled. They would call a half hour before the concert to let us know. Nobody called. We went to the concert. It was cancelled. Rescheduled to the next day. That was how the concert tie ended up on the dining chair. What was the point to put it in the closet to be taken out again the next day?
The concert was a success in my opinion, sucked in my son’s. I especially liked “The Sweet Child O’Mine” (Guns N’Roses) performed by combined 9th and 12th grade orchestras at the end. He said that some people in the audience did not even realize what song was being played. He did not play some of the fast notes altogether, trying to minimize the damage to the overall performance done by his horrible playing. However, the pieces they did were way more difficult than last year’s, therefore, comparing to last year he improved drastically. Mazel Tov.