The Russian Girl at the Duck Pond
There’s too much looking on bright side, she says. She has rod-straight black hair and a Russian accent that makes me nostalgic for Rocky the Flying Squirrel, and Boris and Natasha – not everything was bleak and fatalistic during the Cold War. And she says, lots of people, (and I’m still contemplating why we shouldn’t look on the bright side), worked very hard but were paid very very bad. Not enough money for nice breakfast, or bread and pickle with dinner. And then she explains that her childhood only lacked for what she didn’t need, and I realise my childhood was much the same, but she was raised with Khrushchev hammering his shoe on a desk, while I hammered chalk dust out of the classroom erasures as punishment for talking during lessons and disturbing my neighbours. I did such a fine job of clapping chalk dust that it became my permanent job after school all during 3rd grade. It was my first poorly paid job, you might say. And then she asks if I’ve ever been to Coney Island — says she was there once. On Labour Day when she visited her cousin in Jersey. A person could get lost in America, she says, and no one would miss you because no one would know you’re lost.
the ducks will return
after the pond thaws and days
will stretch green as grass