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When a child, she ran the mountains with the dogs.
The only voice she heard were those of the toothless old woman,
The old man, frail as a robin’s bone, dry coughing, dry coughing.
No boxes spoke to her, no images existed that were not there and then.
Mystery lived in every unopened bud; she shelled okra
So its secrets could spill out. Fear was a black watered lake
Where a young boy had drowned one summer. The greatest power,
The fire that roasted potatoes. Miracles were the seeds
the old woman pushed into the black earth.
She saw omens everywhere
And spirits sometimes hovered at the foot of her bed.

She felt herself a mountain; strong stone and sharpness,
Torrents of emotion became roaring waterfalls that crashed at the feet.
Watching the toothless old woman eat, she wrapped herself
like a ribbon around the bowed legs. The love unbearable.
When she threw the candy, watched its red circle shatter,
become a kaleidoscope at his feet,
The soft pain that filled the old man’s eyes,
She first came to know the cut of guilt.
She dreamed she could fly.

At the deepest level she understood she was a book;
One the old woman, who could neither read nor write,
was writing and that its title was her becoming.
What she would become was the old woman,
And she thought nothing could be better than that.

It was a good story the old woman had written for her.
Interesting and just sad enough. And rich – honey lingering
on the back of the tongue.
At the end, the years would wear away the sharp edges;
Fierceness reduce to a soft nearly soundless brook,
Passions to the tinkling of wind chimes in a windless winter.
She would feel herself rounded.

Mary Metzger is a 72 year old retired teacher who has lived in Moscow for the past ten years. She studied Women’s Studies under Barbara Eherenreich and Deidre English at S.U.N.Y. Old Westerbury. She did her graduate work at New York University under Bertell Ollman where she studied Marx, Hegel and the Dialectic. She went on to teach at Kean University, Rutgers University, N.Y.U., and most recenly, at The Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology where she taught the Philosophy of Science. Her particular area of interest is the dialectic of nature, and she is currently working on a history of the dialectic. She is the mother of three, the gradmother of five, and the great grandmother of 2.

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