8 Aug

I was born here, in this small village, and I tend to the sheep with my two dogs. I am ten years old. I want to go abroad, to see beautiful countries. I do not like my country. I do not like the people of my country. I would like to leave on a plane. Then I can look down at the beauty of other lands. Next year, when I go to school, they will teach me how to drive a tractor or a combine. That is all that they have for me at that school. That is all there is for me here. And sheep.

“And what’s this one from?” she says.
“This. This.”
She taps the circular scar with the back of her index finger. Then she pushes gently on the raised piece of tangled flesh.
“Oh, you’ll laugh,” he says.
“I promise.”
“Swear to God.”
“I swear.”
“You’re bound. It’s serious.”
“I know.”
“All right. When I was five I threw rocks at a goose and he came after me hissing.”
He looks at her to make sure she’s not holding it in.
“He came at me like he was insane or rabid, so I started running toward my grandmother’s house. But he was a goose, and he half ran and half flew, so he was much faster.”
“Don’t tell me,” she says, “he caught up to you and mauled you.”
“No, I turned to look behind and I tripped. I fell on a sharp rock which cut into my left side; into my hip, all the way to the bone.”
“What about the goose?”
“I don’t know,” he says. “I don’t remember. There was so much blood from the cut and I was screaming.”

My name is Mihail and I am sixty-six years old. I was born in this village in 1938 when the Germans occupied the country, before the Russians came through and swept them back. Soon I will die here. The remainder of my days I will spend going to church and reading the Bible. I have six sons. The oldest, Gabriel, I tried to send to religious school so he could study to become a priest, but he ran away. That’s all I ever wanted. One son for God. The rest, for this life.

How can they divide this land into pieces? This is my country. How can someone cut a country into pieces? With a saw?

I’ve been a cobbler here all my life. I don’t want my children to follow in any of my footsteps. I want them to be different. I want them to leave this place.

“Tell me something quick.”
“Two men are wrestling. Someone asks: whose side is God on?”
“Well? Whose side is He on?”
“I don’t know.”
“Whoever wins. God is always on the winner’s side.”

Six boys. Silhouettes against the fiery, crimson dusk sun. They’re rolling a giant tractor tire up a hill. One of them pours petrol all over it and sets it on fire. The flames take the form of a corkscrew, sucked and shaped by the wind. The boys begin to dance.

“May God be with you.”
“And also with you.”


9 Responses to “Pieces”

  1. Anonymous 08/08/2007 at 1:38 PM #

    Ok, this has got to be all connected. I get the feeling all these pieces are about one man at different stages of his life. And the number 6. 66 years old and 6 sons. And the 6 boys appear again setting fire to the tires. Very cool man.

  2. scott 08/08/2007 at 2:27 PM #

    I really love this. Wow. Who the hell do you think you are to write shit like this? This is good shit.

    Hello, Lx.

  3. slyboots2 08/08/2007 at 2:32 PM #


    Artfully done, sir.

  4. Rachel 08/08/2007 at 5:03 PM #

    This makes me think of Babel.

  5. Lx 08/08/2007 at 5:41 PM #

    Anon, everything’s connected.

    Scott, why is it every time you say “hello Lx” all I can think of is coming back with the Seinfeld reference: “Hello, Newman!” Who the hell do I think I am? Brandon.

    Sly, thanks.

    Rachel, the film or the tower?

  6. Anji 09/08/2007 at 8:00 AM #

    Interesting reading. We had a goose; when my parents moved house they couldn’t get anyone to take him, he was so fierce.

    I learnt to drive on a tractor!

  7. Tony 09/08/2007 at 12:33 PM #


  8. Rachel 09/08/2007 at 1:32 PM #


  9. Lx 09/08/2007 at 1:35 PM #

    i was kidding.
    my sense of humour doesn’t translate, it appears, too well.
    i should just stop.

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