A Christmas Surprise

From India Today

Sufi musicians play Christmas carols, including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and We Wish You a Merry Christmas:


Marina Tsvetaeva, “Bound for Hell”



Hell, my ardent sisters, be assured,
Is where we’re bound; we’ll drink the pitch of hell—
We, who have sung the praises of the lord
With every fiber in us, every cell.

We, who did not manage to devote
Our nights to spinning, did not bend and sway
Above a cradle—in a flimsy boat,
Wrapped in a mantle, we’re now borne away.

Every morning, every day, we’d rise
And have the finest Chinese silks to wear;
And we’d strike up the songs of paradise
Around the campfire of a robbers’ lair,

We, careless seamstresses (our seams all ran,
Whether we sewed or not)—yet we have been
Such dancers, we have played the pipes of Pan:
The world was ours, each one of us a queen.

First, scarcely draped in tatters, and disheveled,
Then plaited with a starry diadem;
We’ve been in jails, at banquets we have reveled:
But the rewards of heaven, we’re lost to them,

Lost in nights of starlight, in the garden
Where apple trees from paradise are found.
No, be assured, my gentle girls, my ardent
And lovely sisters, hell is where we’re bound.

Translated from the Russian by Stephen Edgar 


Leonora Carrington

Houses are really bodies. We connect ourselves with walls, roofs, and objects just as we hang on to our livers, skeletons, flesh and blood stream. I am no beauty, no mirror is necessary to assure me of this absolute fact. Nevertheless I have a death grip on this haggard frame as if it were the limpid body of Venus herself. This is true of the back yard and the small room I occupied at that time, my body, the cats, the red hen all my body all part of my own sluggish blood stream. A separation from these well-known and loved, yes loved, things were “Death and Death indeed” according to the old rhyme of the Man of Double Deed. There was no remedy for the needle in my heart with its long thread of old blood. Then what about Lapland and the furry dog team? That would also be a fine violation of those cherished habits, yes indeed, but how different from an institution for decrepit old women.

Leonora Carrington, The Hearing Trumpet, p. 13


From “Autobiography of Red”, Anne Carson

And you are an atheist too? said Geryon.

I am a skeptic. You doubt God?  Well more to the point I credit God

with the good sense to doubt me.

What is mortality after all but divine doubt flashing over us?  For an instant God

suspends assent and POOF! we disappear.

It happens to me frequently.  You disappear?  Yes and then come back.

Moments of death I call them.  Have an olive,

he added as the waiter’s arm flashed between them with a plate.

Thank you, said Geryon

and bit into an olive.  The pimiento stung his mouth alive like a sudden sunset.

Anne Carson, Autobiography of Red, p. 94