truth in packaging

susan smith nash


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Yeah and then the wind came up off the Caspian just in time to sear my eyelids shut with salt and regret.Azerbaijan soaks my mind with fire from the earth and artesian springs roaring up from the heart of the Caucasus.I swallow.Trees flower.Plants bloom.Music is wood vibrating or a string plucked by a soft, trembling hand. My heart fades.


You know how it goes when youíre missing someone.


Thereís like a permanent crease now between my brows, that ďknitted browĒ look of literature and the kind of book youíll check out from the public library, but never buy for yourself.


Itís from sadness.At least thatís what Iíve concluded.


If tears run down my cheeks here as I sit on a little park bench on Bakuís Ploshad Fontanov (Fountain Square), will anyone notice?Does anyone even know what the Fountain Square is called these days?Itís the law that everything has to be in Azeri.All signs must use Latin letters.Goodbye to Cyrillic.Goodbye to Russian.Hello to a rediscovered identity.Hello to a new language.


The chaos is only temporary, they say.


Wind in ineffable growls across history and myth-in-the-making.My eyes yearn for certitude.I read Latin letters with more ease than Cyrillic.My mind is on a nice downslope glide, Iím rubbing my knees with my palms, taking out the ache if I can.


My gift from you is in a box.The label is in Russian.There is a sticker superimposed.It is in Azeri.Somewhere on the side, someone has printed alternative, supposedly equivalent versions, in Turkish, German, English.


I understand more than I did yesterday.So why be confused?Each day brings its own enlightenment.Why am I an olive fallen to the street, desiccated by air column after column of sadness?


Itís only because Iím missing someone, I suppose.You know it is you.


The box is heavy although empty.I took the gift out as soon as I opened it.Now the truth remains pasted on an empty box.


Unfortunately, I can read only one version, and itís on the part of the label that I tore loose when I saw the package was from you.It is damaged beyond repair.


Funny how love works, isnít it.