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Fishing 

In memory of playwright Anna Yablonskaya

The parti-colored fish hangs suspended,
motionless, above the lake bottom.
A fish is expressionless, I think to myself in belated discovery.
Its face is immobile: neither joy nor sadness spring to the icthyological mien.
Were we humans not divided against ourselves, would our faces be expressionless, too?
Undivided, would we truly know who-and what-we are?
Is that how civilization knows itself, Anna,
torn between piano notes and gunfire?
Oh Anna, is this the understanding you and I were fishing for all along,
you in the footlights, I in the twilight?
The bombers have destroyed you at random,
as randomly as I catch a glimpse of this random fish,
confirming again that chance has an empire
that renders choice a fool's illusion.
There's a reason for everything, people say, consoling themselves.
But secretly, just between us, we knew there isn't, didn't we? It's a conjurer's trick.
Oh, Anna, you were so right when you said,
"Regularities are an illusion. The same signs always mean different things."
What signs shall I read now in your motionless body, your expressionless face?
And what shall I make of the expressionless face of the bomber's severed head,
powder-burned and charred, devoid of fear and dread-
yea verily, a face content? Does death find the two of you content now, together in bloodless eternity?
No one would have appreciated the irony more than you . . .
I'll keep fishing, Anna, I'll keep fishing, always in memory of you.

The rising Ukrainian playwright Anna Mashutina, 30, pen name Yablonskaya, was killed by shrapnel in the terrorist suicide bombing Jan. 24 at Moscow's Domodedovo airport. According to The Moscow Times, she wrote a single line on her blog on Dec. 21, "It seems to me that I have very little time left." Her daughter, Maria, is 3.

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Paul Mann

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