I have neighbors from Siberia. The woman is squat, rosy-cheeked, and wears a babushka. Every day her husband paces outside, coughing. Did he work in the mines? Or is it cigarettes? I want ask, but they hardly speak English.

When I arrived home this morning, he pointed and said, "Umbrella!" "Umbrella, yes," I replied. We both laughed. Middle-aged, it would seem that the highly developed technology that can put people on the moon, launch probes into space, or estimate how old a geological deposit might be result from the neocortex's capacity to make explicit the implicit calculus of these small lexiconal triumphs, tribal breakthroughs, seem monumental.

What would happen if I say "Stalin"?

At my feet—
a slug stares up
at a hairy giant.


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