“Sentenced in 1983, on her 29th birthday, to the seven-year maximum term for “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda,” Ms. Ratushinskaya composed some 250 poems in prison, many drafted with burned matchsticks on bars of soap. She memorized them and smuggled them on cigarette paper through her husband to the West, where they were published, and where human rights groups indefatigably lobbied for her release.” —Sam Roberts, New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/13/books/irina-ratushinskaya-soviet-dissident-and-writer-dies-at-63.html?emc=eta1
Irina, a sister poet, died July 5 in Moscow from Cancer. I look at her eyes and imagine she is asking me, “How far would you go to write what is given to you to write?” Will it take prison for you to understand that without writing, you are a ghost? Can you imagine writing on soap, memorizing the gift of words and washing your hands, the same hands that dug the burnt matches into the soap?
I’ll take this challenge with you, sister and brother writers. Thirty minutes and only this beginning: I am willing to go this far…
Here is this week’s contributor writing:
Hi. What are you doing out here on my rocks? I’m Patches, by the way. My humans couldn’t think of a better name? I could have been called Hatshepsut or Nefertiti. I may not look it, but I feel Egyptian.
Me? I’m hunting. You wouldn’t believe abundance of mice and voles and grasshoppers out here. My humans and I used to live in an apartment in the city, where I had to eat Kibble instead of fresh kill and had to use a litter box. The only times I ever saw the outdoors was on trips to the vet in a kitty carrier. Or on the fire escape platform from where I could spy on the doings of Mehitable, the alley cat from Shinbone Alley who thinks she’s descended from Cleopatra. As if.
Hunting is great in the daytime, but, though I’m naturally nocturnal, it can be hazardous at night. A sneaky owl once just missed pouncing on me soon after we moved here. I didn’t even hear him until it was almost too late.
At first I was afraid of the ocean. All that foam and splash and spray. It was noisy, and it was wet! My humans actually go out in it. Me, I’m keeping my distance. It’s nice here where the sun warms these dark rocks. You’re headed up to the house? Well, nice talkin to ya. I’ll just snooze her a bit longer. —Pamela Lee