Translator’s Note

Rainie Oet

My brother, Mark, told me, once, that if you hit one stone against another stone, you’d create a connection between them. I watched Mark and our cousin, Michael, hit two stones together, then step apart. Mark lifted his stone up to his mouth, and Michael lifted his stone up to his ear. Quietly, Mark said “hello” into his stone. Michael jumped back, startled, holding the stone away from his head. “I could hear you so loud,” he said.

I was amazed! “Let me try it,” I said. Michael gave me the stone. Mark put his stone up to his mouth. I put mine up to my ear. “Hello,” Mark said into his stone … It was a trick. No sound came out of the stone I held to my ear. But, still, a crowd of people had gathered, was watching us. So I acted as Michael had — jumped back, held the stone away from my ear, said, “Wow it’s so loud!”

Sophia Parnok is dead, and I am alive. She’s writing in Russian, and I’m writing in English. The gaps are unbridgeable. And yet, she puts the stone up to her mouth, and whispers, and I hear it / don’t hear it, and I tell you what she says until you believe it.


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