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A poem is not written

It occurs at night or at dawn

And I happene to be there

Roads We Choose     

       A farmer’s horse ran away.

       The neighbor said, Isn’t it awful?

        A farmer said, Maybe.

        Next day the horse came back and brought ten wild horses with it.

        The neighbor said, Isn’t wonderful? A farmer said, Maybe.     

        His son tried to ride a wild horse and broke his leg.  

        The neighbor said, Isn’t it awful? A farmer said, Maybe.  

        In ten days recruiters came for conscription and rejected his son.     

        The neighbor said, Isn’t wonderful? A farmer said, Maybe.  

        – French Fable


Growing up in a loving family, I was married very young.I taught Physics in college in Moscow. My genius scientist husband and I were too involved in our careers and gave little time to our daughter. I managed to teach our pretty girl many things - poems, logic, to make decisions, carry a latchkey, be able to defend herself from anti-Semitic bullies.People said, Isn’t it wonderful? This child is so independentI would say, Maybe. Maybe, it would be better, if I spent more time with her.Time passed and my daughter, 18 then, and I were ready to leave Russia a God forsaken backward country. For my husband to stay or to leave bore equal fear, he preferred the known fright to the uncertainty. We divorced, and I applied for an exit visa.People said, Is this woman brave to leave for such a journey without a man?I would say, Maybe. Maybe, it was just light-mindedness and subconscious craving for adventure.After three years of calamity in limbo, on a cold December day in 1980 at the Moscow airport, euphoria of anticipation burned the connection with our first life.People said, Isn’t it awfully sad to leave places of life-long attachment?I would say, Maybe. Maybe it was just a move to another frame of reference. Joy and sorrow lie in us and are independent of where we live.  We have landed in J.F.K. and began to learn  who we were and who we are.   Now, I am a Jew by choice and conviction,  like Ruth in her final journey with Naomi,  when she chose her Jewish future and ours.My daughter received her Master Degree’s in Music, became a performing pianist and composer, and now lives in New York City. I am retired from computer programming and live in a cozy house in New Jersey and write poetry. I was and am happy to find my Jewishness.People said, Isn’t it wonderful that those two independent women achieved so much?I would say, Maybe. Maybe it would be better if I had found my Jewishness not here but in Israel?                                                                              - Natalia Zaretsky



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