Monday, August 22, 2005

threadbare and black

Her leggings were threadbare and black, white underwear showing through the rear and a brown summertime cricket clinging to one thigh. A cotton scrunchy held her coarse, graying hair in a low ponytail, pulling it back from lined, leathery cheeks. Away from narrow lips and narrow eyes I imagined growing narrower, tighter, more taunt, with each Mongolian winter. Ushering me through the doorframe and into the dimly lit ger, she gestured toward the cot where I was to sleep, sprawled beneath a wooden rod strung with dried meat and drying pantyhose. She motioned for me to sit, setting a plastic plate of aaruul, dried milk curds, before me and sliding over a large tin pail of fresh yoghurt, clumpy and thick with thin liquid pooling at the center. Handing me a spoon and motioning toward the pail, she found her own seat on the cot lining the ger’s opposite curve. Lighting up a smoke and sipping at milk tea, she watched me as I watched her.

Strangers, contained within one round wall.


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