As if – poem inspired by Michelle Pacansky-Brock #digiwrimo

Thank you for your beautifully worded post, Michelle Pacansky-Brock.

I first shared these images in a blog post back in 2009. They are part of a historical narrative contained within an autograph book which belonged to my maternal grandmother.

(I attempt to write down the story)

As if 1917 were still now.

As if the colours have just been applied with the brush,

as if the painter has just left the room to make a cup of tea.

As if the sled has just arrived,

leaving straight lines in the snow

punctuated by horses’ hooves

and the travellers’ impatience to dismount has marked the snow with hurried footprints.

As if the anticipation of the travellers lives on perpetually,

as if the barely contained joy of the husband and father is about to happen right now

and the warm, strong embraces can be felt over and over:

the first embrace for the little daughter, then a kiss for the newborn son, and finally the longest one for the soul companion

whose letters have sustained a solitary confinement.

As if the tears shed remain moist on the cheek and the loving words white clouds that linger in the cold air frozen forever.

As if the story of war-torn families is the same everywhere

and every day husbands, fathers, wives, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, grandmothers, grandfathers and babies

are living and reliving the moment when dreams are realised and the family is reunited.

As if 1917 is now and in the future.

Background to the illustrations:

The father/husband in the story is my maternal grandmother’s father. She is the little girl in the picture and the baby is her brother (who died from tuberculosis at the age of 18). Her father was staying in Siberia for work.  They were Germans in Russia, and my grandmother was born in Russia.

The second illustration is part of a story written in the form of a poem by a friend of the family.  The poem and illustrations relate the story of this episode of their lives in 1915 (but the poem is dated 1917). Poetry in verse was commonly written by Russian people at the time (and even now).

Storyjumper Part 10: The maps #digiwrimo

This is part 10 of a storyjumper for Digital Writing Month.  You can read the other parts here:

Part 1          Bruno’s blog started us off with a personal narrative.
Part 2          Kevin’s blog began the story.
Part 3          Maha’s blog continued…
Part 4          Sarah’s blog…
Part 5          Ron’s blog…
Part 6          Tanya’s blog…
Part 7          Kay’s blog…
Part 8          Ron’s blog…

Part 9          Dana’s blog

You can follow the story here.

What was he waiting for? Why didn’t he knock? *She was more than ready to let him in. She felt her hand dip into her pocket and her fingers feel around for what she knew was there.

They were facing each other.

The first thing she saw was his puzzled expression. Then her eyes traced the fine lashes on his face and down his straight nose to his mouth which was partly open – she guessed from shock – the shock she tried to suppress as she struggled to make sense of their physical closeness in unknown surroundings. What the…!?  In her peripheral vision she guessed they were in a deserted street and it was dusk. Or was it dawn? Nobody in sight. A car parked a little way down the road.

And then she let her eyes follow his arm down to his hand which was clutching a map. And she? She was still holding the map she had been turning over at home, scrutinising. And between her fingers… what? Sand?

Image courtesy of the Lewis Lab at Northeastern University. Image created by Anthony D’Onofrio, William H. Fowle, Eric J. Stewart and Kim Lewis. (See Anthony D’Onofrio on Flickr)

“Where the hell are we?” he broke the silence and her mental musing.

Map found here.

“I..I…I think – I know it sounds crazy – but I think it’s the maps,” she managed to splutter, blushing a little as he came to life, and unnerved now by their physical closeness.

They both turned in the direction of the sudden sound of a car screeching towards them.

“Sarah?” he said, as she jumped out of the car. “What the hell is going on here?!”

“Get in!” Sarah grabbed Kevin’s arm and pushed him into the car.  “Time’s running out! Get in! Hurry up!”

She had no time to lose. No time to think, she swung open the back door of the car as it started moving and flung herself into the back seat, the car accelerating at an unnerving speed.  She knew, somehow, that she had to hold onto the map.

It was difficult to describe what happened next. The scenery flew past them too quickly; it wasn’t normal. Physically she felt squeezed, she felt as if all her organs were compressed, she could barely breathe. And all the time that dreadful shrieking – not just in the ears but everywhere. Stop it, stop it! Unbearable.  And then she realised it was she who was shrieking.

via GIPHY

“Shut up!” screamed Sarah, “what are you doing here? It’s too late; you have to come with us now” as the car came to a sudden stop and she banged her head against the seat in front of her. The seat of the boat she was now in. In the middle of a vast, icy lake. Under a white sky.

“What the hell are you playing at!” Sarah’s face too close to hers.

*The initial motif of Beethoven’s 5th symphony has sometimes been credited with symbolic significance as a representation of Fate knocking at the door

Your turn, Maureen.