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Only The Waters, Everywhere

“This is the uncertain plinth, the moving earth on which we live. Upon this stand the houses, the temples. We have built upon the silt, the drifting sands. Upon a sweeping, undulating, congealed sand-mirror. There in the depths, a different, mysterious river network flows. Certain rivers and rivulets plunge beneath the surface, and they flow there beneath the houses, the granaries, the temples, the stone-paved roads. They surge along toward the cemetery, the carcass pit, toward the Outer Village under the hill.
“A man does not even suspect that he is walking above congealed rivers with their slow sweeping movements. If these depths opened up, the houses, the wooden-spired belfries, the tiny temples that have stood here for almost a thousand years would all disappear. They were built from brick that was fired from clay, for in this land there was never stone. Here there are only the waters, everywhere. Loam and mud. Upon the earth, in the air, and down below in the depths, as well. But thanks be to the Almighty, blessed be His name, for He does not allow the waters below to break into our world.”
Here the rabbi paused in his remarks. The lights of the Sabbath candles were ablaze. They quivered as the rabbi spoke, because in the meantime he sighed very deeply. Whenever he took a breath, he struggled as if he were suffocating.

—Szilárd Borbély, The Dispossessed

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