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Her presence in his life was unexpected—she a landlord, he a tenant; she a vibrant Russian-born scientist, he a journalism professor near retirement. He had come to Durham on a mission to save himself at the world-famous Duke Diet and Fitness Center. She was a brilliant neuroscientist breaking new ground in the labs at Duke on the link between short-term memory and schizophrenia. She was inaccessible—a demanding lab schedule, a deep commitment to her Orthodox faith, emotionally isolated by the untimely death of her fiancé ten years previous. Her only escape was to lose herself in Russian literature, especially poetry. He sensed she cared when she emerged from her private reading nook upstairs, to spend more time reading on the adjacent couch, as he watched his nightly TV shows. He had much to say to her, and he intuitively knew that the best way to command her attention was to be as engaging as Pushkin. And so began the flow of poems until one day he jokingly asked her, “If I write you one hundred poems, will you marry me?” Her affirmative answer caught him off guard. Now all can share the language of courtship inspired by his muse.

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