Tuesday, 28 October 2008
Cracow 2 - This for C
This being allowed a free day for me, I walked over to Kazimierz, the old Jewish quarter, ambled about the streets, looked in at bookshops and exhibitions, including a particularly moving one of Jewish Cracow artists. Most of them never made it through the war, of course. Some shot, some starved, some gassed, some simply vanished. I don't suppose any of them was that peculiar thing, a 'great' artist, but there they were, artists in the swim of Modernism, many of them sparky and gifted, some landscapists, some portraitists, some narrative painters, a few abstractionists; colourists, draughtsmen and women, printmakers, sculptors, graphic artists; some dead at twenty-three or not much more, others in their sixties or seventies.
As to the area, it is much as I expected. Nowhere near as pretty or stately as the old town, somewhat slummish in parts, and distinctly slummy back then it seems. It has a semi-improvised museum air now, not too volubly self-conscious and still not as pretty as the town centre, of course. The town centre is prosperous and grand and lively, full of the young. Just now there are bands of them draped in what, I imagine, are Wisla Cracow flags, singing away, over and over again, the usual four lines from some well known chorus.
One could live here - meaning I could live here. It is as pretty as a gift, and properly wrapped. The people look friendly in general. They too are sparky. Hey, we are all sparky! Spark is what we have.
I sat outside a bar in a sqaure in Kazimierz, drinking a beer in the sunshine, and I started writing, thinking particularly of C and of the dead whose work I had just seen, and the sunlight and the leaves drifting about the square in front of me.
This is only a draft, I suppose, but I think it is sitting about right, so I am venturing it here, airing it, like possibly not ultimately clean linen.
In thinking of you and where we might
have met, or never met, it seemed night
had settled in a far away corner, here
for example, in Kazimierz, in the one year
and the one moment. Autumn set in, leaves
just starting to drift like lost gloves
for lost hands, so all I could think of just now
was leaves and gloves and hands, and how
to address them. How to address you then
as we ourselves drift among men and women
much like ourselves, who might have been
anyone: leaf, hand, glove, the brown once green,
the night once day, the moment being for ever
the moment, the moment never being over?
Yes, a-a, b-b etc through the fourteen, and just the drifting things, drifting being the best of walking.