← Back Published on


The rain falls heavy upon the blackened and muddied soil. The stench of the sludge reaps through the fields as they wait to be cleansed by the light of dawn. This smell is hard to get used to, especially when it permeates the thin walls of this barn. Old Nikita knows. She has been providing us milk for the last decade or so, watching her calves grow, marked, and slaughtered by the same hands of those who fed her. She knows the smell better than anyone. The wretched stench that stuck to our aprons now lives in this barn here.

I still remember the day when this barn was built. The sun was bright and the crops were dancing to the drafts of springs. I still remember bragging to the hired hands that Petrograd’s land is the best for farming. I still remember when our dear neighbors would bring us borscht every now and then, and we would all sit comfortably in the comfort of our living room, watching the barn over the horizon as the cold Russian storm frosted over. But those were old times.

Now we live in Leningrad. And in Leningrad, there is nothing but a dreary gray. Sure, us workers would be benefiting more, but at what cost? What is the cost for this equality? Is it the silence that now roams these fields? The ghostly raking that echoes the barn? The peeling roof that no one will replace? What do you think, Nikita? It will be quieter here, no? I open the barn gate and lead her out to the small patch of grass at the edge of the farm--one that is yet to be tainted. As I travel with my now only companion, I look back at the old barn and see a glimpse of someone fixing the roof and waving at me. Alas, I couldn’t afford to stop. Because Nikita and I… we aren’t in Petrograd anymore.