I have been discussing the difference with my students between representational and abstract art. Representational is a picture of what the artist sees, while abstract is a picture of the artist's feelings. Literature is like this too: prose is the representation, what the author sees, the audience also sees. Poetry is the abstract, the writing that shows the audience only pure feeling. Today, as the strong wind blows strongly through the trees, scattering red and golden leaves in it's wake, I have decided it's a poetry day. Humor me.
Like the phoenix who
Rises from its own ashes
I leave everything
Leaves fall from the trees
And are regenerated
Like some samadhi
The atmosphere around us
My soul breathes it in
In the 1960s, Tashkent suffered an earthquake so large that it decimated all but a small part of the entire city. For about three years, people lived in green tents while workers from all over the Soviet Union came to help rebuild. They expanded the city, rebuilt all the infrastructure and added a subway system.
Fast forward to 2004. An American Peace Corps volunteer is living in an apartment built by Moscow architects and works in a school built in the expansion that occurred after the earthquake. As she walks around her region and looks out her window everyday she sees the trees that were planted in the 1960s to make Tashkent look lush and inviting. Then, one not so special day, she looks out her window to see a man in a cherry picker with a chainsaw. She watches, horrified, as this evil man proceeds to chop down almost every one of the beautiful trees surrounding her apartment, until the only thing left to see is the awful Soviet architecture of the building across the way.
But that's not all! Not only did they kill all the inviting trees, but they left them where they lay like the scattered corpses after a massacre. Then they stacked the scattered parts alongside the apartment building, blocking off the exits. Has it been mentioned that the favorite pastime of children here is to play with matches? Apparently, only the American is aware of the term 'fire hazard'.
It's not as if there are so many beautiful things about Tashkent. There's the metro, the trees and the mosaics dotting the sides of apartment buildings. Wherever a person can find a scrap of beauty here, they treasure it. Even a clean piece of money can mesmerize. So it's like a kick in the gut when bureaucrats destroy what little we can glean from the landscape. My time left will not be the same.