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Poems by Brodie Anderson - American Poems in Sarov

Brodie Anderson was a key player in LANL’s pulsed-power-based high-energy-density physics collaboration with VNIIEF.  As an electronic technician, he was a prime interface with his VNIIEF colleagues involved in preparation of the joint experiments conducted both in the US and in Russia.  Furthermore, he was responsible for overseeing the shipment of LANL test equipment to VNIIEF, a monumental task compounded by the US Commerce and State Department’s regulations on shipping anything, even something as innocuous as pencils, to Russia’s nuclear weapons laboratories.  Brodie quickly earned the trust and respect of his VNIIEF colleagues.  The impact of his contributions to the success of the joint experiments cannot be overstated.  Nor can his impact on the social interactions between the LANL team and Sarov residents, particularly the Sarov English Club.

Visits to the Sarov English Club were one of the most enjoyable social aspects of the LANL/VNIIEF interaction for the LANL team.  For reasons even he cannot explain, the interactions prompted Brodie to write poetry.  He wrote only when in Russia, and three of his poems appear below. 

Here and There, Now and Then

Winter in Sarov

The Special Thing

Irv Lindemuth shares below  why Brodie's poems have a special meaning to him and other LANL team members:

Brodie would read one of his poems on visits to the English Club and leave his handwritten poem with the club members.  During a visit to VNIIEF in November 1996, the now-common visit to the English Club had a special surprise as a 13-year-old daughter of one of the members recited one of Brodie Anderson’s poems in perfect English.  In subsequent visits, we would watch this young girl grow into a wonderful young woman.

Even though Brodie had not accompanied us on the October 1997 trip, once again one of his poems was recited by the same girl at the English Club.  When our team again visited the English Club in April 2008, LANL team pictures and one of Brodie’s poems were featured prominently on a poster that the Club had prepared describing its history.  Since Brodie had not retained copies of the poems, we asked for, and were given, copies of the three poems.  The handwritten poems had been retyped by the Club under the byline “Brodie (Pushkin) Anderson.”  It is only because the Club had retained a copy of Brodie’s poems that we are able to reproduce them here.

Candles glisten in the snow as Sarov women sing a cappella at a nearby cross (February 1995)

Brodie’s poems accurately capture some of the feelings many members of the LANL team have experienced.  Many of his lines have special meaning for me.  In “Winters in Sarov,” Brodie writes “The ladies by the crosses sing,” a line prompted by a February 1995 visit to the shrine of St. Seraphim outside Sarov, but still within the security fences.  In the quiet and beauty of the Russian winter, small prayer candles were found burning in the deep snow at the base of a small cross and through the forest we heard the beautiful sound of several women singing chants a cappella in front of another cross, perhaps the most spiritually moving experience of my many trips to Russia.  Further down in the same poem Brodie notes “Skis at the Deep Mountain slide,” a line prompted by the same trip when Brodie had an opportunity to put on skis and take a few runs down into a deep quarry, i.e., the Deep Mountain.

--Irv Lindemuth, Tucson AZ, June 2017