The age of ice

The age of ice


J.M. Sidorova





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I was born of cold copulation, white-fleshed and waxy like a crust of
fat on beef broth left outside in winter. I was born of seed that would
have seized with frost if spilled on the newlyweds’ bed. I was born on the
twenty-seventh of September because in the month of January my parents
had been sealed in a wedding chamber made of ice.
The year was 1740. The place—St. Petersburg, Russia. My country,
corseted, wigged, and powdered on top but still darkly savage at heart,
was panting and retching after the marathon Peter the Great had forced
her to run. My would-be father, Prince Mikhail Velitzyn, scion of a family
ancient and stately, had been transformed into a court jester. He had
been forced to wear red-and-white-striped stockings and pretend to be a
hen—to brood an imaginary clutch in Empress Anna Ioanovna’s menagerie
of dwarfs, cripples, freaks, and victims. This was his punishment for
an alleged affair with a Catholic noblewoman.

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