Cruel winter, oppressive winter,
Our despair, our sorrow!
Its days are bitter,
Its nights like death.
Our villages are caves,
Our homes are scenes of avalanches.
Our ancestors have ordained that we
Perish in turn under an avalanche.
Our poor ones, our orphans,
Without a drop of work,
To God cry out
Hungry, frozen"--from a poem by Kosta Khetagurun
Tonight I surfed the internet, reading about North Ossetia, the area of Russia where Beslan is located.
I read of mountain reaches, a rich culture, ethnic majorities and minorities, setbacks and potential and progress and defeat.
I read of the (south) Ossetian poet Kosta Khetagurum, who advocated for democracy in a time of monarchy. I read how the invading Nazis burned his manuscripts.
I read of a time when people went to ski and hike in the mountains.
I read of recent times when people set off bombs in hospitals.
I read of ethnic tensions, national identities,
Nothing in my reading showed me why vicious and desperate people took over a middle school and then killed hundreds.
I visited pages of words about Ossetia tonight, but I do not understand Ossetia at all.
Yet I live in Ossetia.