Dostoevsky’s Grave

Posted: April 16, 2015 in poker


That’s the Rosetta stone, above.  It’s the same  text in three different languages, which made it possible to translate Egyptian hieroglyphs.  It’s a key of sorts to the past.  I’m in love with history.  History gives you maps to the past, ways to understand that others have had similar experiences to you, heartbreak, loss, love.  It gives you the chance to learn from their experiences, and to reach out and touch the same stones or buildings or churches where events happened that changed peoples lives.

spilled blood

I took Russian in school for many years.  When I travelled there with a group of writers, I could read the signs & ask for directions.   I wasn’t afraid.   I can speak less Spanish than Russian, and so when I  went to Mexico, there was a wall, and I felt inadequate.  I could’ve asked for directions, but might not have been able to understand the response.   But even without language it was beautiful and warm.


The questions are so  tricky.  I’m not really fluent in Russian, but I suppose that would still be the language I’d choose.  Not just to be able to get by, but to be fluent, to have meaningful conversations about life, and art, and poetry.  The culture & people & history are amazing.  The people have gone through wars, the culture is strong in art & poetry, and the literature is some of the best in the world.  I’d love to speak French as well, because the language is so beautiful the way it rolls off the tongue.

The second part of the question is the intriguing part – what is the first thing you would do with your new skills?   It’s a deep question, the answer to which must reflect your heart or your spirit.  If I was a singer, I’d sing.  Since I’m a writer, I suppose I’d  translate.  If I chose Russian I’d go back to St. Petersburg in a heartbeat.  I saw the stairway littered with graffiti from around the world where Dostoevsky lived when he wrote Crime & Punishment.  I visited the summer palace and the Ahkmatova museum.  But I never made it to Dostoevsky’s grave.  I think he’s calling me back.


I’d meet the people.  I’d drink in the history.  I’d go to Kazansky cathedral and see if there was a bear on a leash at the Hermitage.  I’d give money to the women begging by the churches.  I’d see a ballet. If I chose French, there’s Paris.  I would go to the top of the Eiffel tower, the Bastille.   But really, after traveling, the better question is, what is the second thing you’d do?

What would you do with your life?   There are so many beautiful things to see.  I’d still like to make a documentary about young mothers in America.  I’d still write stories.  Could I do anything to help people?  We’ll see. Maybe one of these days I’ll learn to write.  Maybe my history could be a map.  The  truth is I’d probably be fine in a little cabin in the woods with a fireplace, as long as there was a poker game not too far away.  Poker is a language without words. I want to be fluent.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Take That, Rosetta!.”


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