Pain Log #2

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Pain Log #2: Letter to My Sister

I listen to Arvo Pärt’s sacred music
and think of his native Estonia,
which reminds me of that Tallinn
lawyer and historian whom I met 
one November at the American
Academy in Rome. She wore
an outlandish costume for our
communal dinners—mauve taffeta
suit with matching hat—and she
had a flat face and a cold affect. 
Ingeniously, she found ways to 
direct every conversation back  
to jaw-dropping stereotypes: Jews
were stealing all of Europe’s wealth,
how unclean Jews from her home-
town, “stink like horse shit,” and
“Jews are taking all the best jobs.”
Our table of diners grew silent,
shocked and embarrassed by
her casually professed hatred.

Thus, I conclude that Estonia, like all
countries, is capable of producing
both enlightened men like Arvo Pärt
and highly intelligent hate-mongers.
The body, too, produces joy machines
like endorphins (absent right now),
and cells bent on destroying their
neighbors. We always inhabit or
contain at least two worlds
simultaneously.