Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"Well, what can you do?" Pohadky review

We really appreciated this writer's insight. It was a timely coincidence to read this Pohadky review after a trip to visit Marek's parents, drinking home made wine and hearing family histories of long marches across fluctuating borders, relatives disappeared, and banishments to Siberia.

Colek, Marek and Shewchuk, Pat: Poh√°dky (2008)
Sometimes the people are in the sky, but there's nothing mystical about them; they are not Chagall people; they do not float. They are knotted together in clumps, or they grow up in natural geometries from the ground, trees, people sitting in trees, tree-like geometries, branches and root. Hands are huge, stiff and knobby, wooden, wood. Arms bud branches, twigs, seldom leaves. Skulls are round as clouds. There are geometric designs on the lefthand pages, strange abstractions not so strange, trees, pine leaves, branches. The colors are green and brown, dull, dusty, olives, camoflauge, worn-out, winter colors, not autumnal colors; it feels like winter, all the branches are bare. A witch and a skull-faced demon curl together like mother and child. The demons have long sad faces and stretch out their cloven hooves as if they hurt, as if they've walked too long. The women crouch in trees, peering down, old bent middle-aged postures, the creak and crook of age and endurance, of being so used to working when you're tired that it doesn't even hurt anymore, or anyway you don't realize it anymore.

They're all earthy, these people, root and branch and earth and stone. A woman sits between two wolves, all their heads bent together, like they're drawing comfort from each other, like the two wolves are her sons, grown taller than she is. One woman has a crimson hood; one mushroom has a red cap, white-spotted. The brightest colors to be seen. Round apples, subtle reds and greens, scratched circles on paper: you can see the scratches, so round. Men with asses' heads, long drooping ears, contemplative postures, shoulders slumped. Skeletons with fedoras and babushkas with scarves wrapped around their heads sharing companionable bottles in the black branches of trees. The people all dress like my grandparents, like the old people out on Ocean Parkway going for winter walks. There's one black and white picture of skeletons like a lost Hirschfield drawing, all unexpected curves. Wolves walk upright and wear overalls. Long eel-shaped fishes swim through the air. The devils have no malice in them, only mouths drawn down as if to say, Well, what can you do? Forest spirits, devils, same difference, really. New boss, same as the old boss, boss in hell like the boss up here. What can you do, right? Inside a fairy tale, after the Russian invasion, Jews, Christians, devils, and ghosts, when the powers you can't fight come by, all you can do is hunker down and be stone, little pebbles, broken sticks, too small to notice and too hard to break. Have a smoke, play a game of cards, tell a joke when the soldiers have passed by. Fairy tales, they're not really for children: they're the stories you tell each other, in farms, in factories, in shtetls and cities, whenever there's a crumb of time, a crack of light, a stray scrap of what-if and well-now hanging around.

written by Micole ([info]coffeeandink)
@ 2008-10-15 21:21:00

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