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Tainaron by Leena Krohn, 1998

Mail from another city

© Leena Krohn

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Tainaron - Mail from another city





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The hum of the wheel - the second letter


At night I awoke to a rattling and a ringing from the kitchenette. I am sure you know that Tainaron is located in a volcanic zone. Scientists claim that we have already arrived in a period when a large eruption is to be expected, so fateful that it may mark the destruction of the entire city.


So what? Do not suppose that it effects the lives of the Tainaronians. The shudders of the night are forgotten, and in the dazzle of morning, in the market-place through which I often take a short cut, a honeyed haze glows in the fruit baskets, and the paving beneath my feet is eternal once more.


And in the evening I look at the enormous Ferris wheel, whose circumference, centre and radii are marked out with thousands of points of light, like stars. Ferris wheel, wheel of fortune.... Sometimes my gaze fastens itself to its spinning and I seem to hear, until sleep comes, the constant humming of the wheel, which is the voice of Tainaron itself.


I do not believe that I have ever seen so many ages and so many gods at the same time as in Tainaron. Where else but Tainaron can the eye encounter, in a single glance, the vanishing spires of cathedrals, the liquid gold of the cupolas of minarets and the pure capitals of a Doric temple? Here they rise, side by side and yet incomparable, each of them alone.


But in many buildings here there is something ill-proportioned, something that is almost ridiculous and makes one think of theatrical scenery. Where does that impression come from? The decoration of the friezes of the palace of supreme justice is ridiculously ornate, while essential parapets and canopies have been omitted from the chamber of commerce. And sometimes, when I begin to grow tired on my walks, I feel dizzy in streets and at crossroads, for the buildings look as if they are leaning and moving in the wind....


Yesterday I walked through an arcade, airy and light, stepping on paving laid by a master, and my gaze caressed the resilient columns, the glittering mosaics of the window recesses. The arcade came to an end, I crossed the square - and got a slap in the face. Before me there swaggered a concrete wall raised on elephants' feet, a featureless, gloomy variation of the colonnade I had just left, insulting and crushingly heavy. But it, too, is part of Tainaron, like the piece of ancient stone wall at the eastern edge of the city, in whose crevices a sand martin nests.


Do you know, I am sometimes startled when, from amid the throng, a snout-like face sways toward me, above which fmble antennae, supple as lashes, or when, in a caf´, a waiter approaches my table, his mandibles protruding just like those of a dragonfly-grub. And yesterday in the tram, a creature sat down next to me, his form recalling that of a leaf; he looked so light that I could have blown him away into the air like a dry weed.


I have met someone who supplies a special thread for the needs of the whole of Tainaron. It is so fine, so durable and so elastic that no industrially produced thread can bear comparison. He secretes it from the rear of his body, as much as 150 metres in 24 hours. The glittering filament, finer than a hair, is far less than a denier in thickness. When a ray of sunlight struck it at the window at which I was examining it, I saw the thread blaze with all the colours of the spectrum.


I should like a dress made only of this thread; a garment lighter, more festive or more beautiful I could not imagine.


But it is a childish dream: I shall never have such a dress. For the filament is so sticky that it would stick to my body like a corrosive glue.


So what is this thread used for? Do not ask me; I do not know, and I do not wish to know.



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