At the supermarket's meat counter, they sell ropes. Yellow and blue. Things we need when weather turns bad. One could never be sure when the boat needs tying off to a cleat. At checkout, we talk of hurricane Ursula. It was in the news, it is now by the docks. My bottled green sea is resting on shelves. Across the isle, a woman looks out. Trains deliver milk and morning newspapers; at the end of his shift, a night watchman lights a cigarette watching umbrellas running to shelter. He has nowhere else. His children sent him a blank telegram. Monochrome winds, he thinks. Time to repair, to build. The house he was born in no longer exists. © Maria Stadnicka 2021 From Somnia (2020) published by the Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, edited by Alec Newman. Cover image - artwork © Mark Mawer The book is available here and here.
During supper at our usual tavern
it reeks of furniture polish. At six o’clock
waiters dust the old piano then serve
wine out of bleached carafes.
Two past seven. Room temperature
eighteen Celsius. Twenty-three guests
order the same main course.
Those seated by the piano need
face coverings. They ask for salt
and spare cutlery. Twenty past seven.
The kitchen door opens
four times in twelve minutes.
There is a power cut when guest B
finishes the lamb chops.
The waiters bring out fire-safe candles.
Guests A and C reach for matches.
© Maria Stadnicka June 2021
Excerpt from the sequence Hermit Age.
At the end of Week #11, the lockdown measures started to ease off, amid concerns over increase in the ‘R’ number. From 0.7 to 1.1. Some schools are still closed, but some cafes are open for business. The #BlackLivesMatter movement was marked by protests in many towns and cities, including Stroud, Gloucestershire.
Overall, it rained, it yelled, it poured, it angered, then things carried on as usual.
© Maria Stadnicka, June 2020
Photography © John Stadnicki, June 2020, Midlands, UK
Photography: © John Stadnicki, May 2020
Sunday lingers on scent of paint,
tobacco and spring. Our kitchen-war
sprouts from a conversation on books
about people we both know. I say
I’d met doctor Zhivago queuing
at Nero’s, heard him asking a barista
about the fate of taiga-trees
at the height of a mining season.
You think they are cut short then stop
growing. I lock my paperbacks
in a cupboard; they remind us
of all the ink twisted in verse, seeded
in layers of gravel. Our verbs reach
the pit of a quarry, and seal over.
Snow forests shoot up in tears,
we trip over extension cables in our flat.
© Maria Stadnicka, May 2020
Photography: © John Stadnicki 2020
Technology and I are not on good terms as of late. Due to limited memory space, mobile apps keep freezing. Vodanex contacted me a few times already with updated offers then with sound advice which I politely requested to have mailed over. The experts suggest that my memory clutter is most probably coming from the BooksApp; too many pages left open in standby. The longest kept on the waiting list has been Is God Happy?* I flick through an essay on socialism which Leszek Kolakowski started at page fifty-eight and finished at sixty-four. My phone pings: Congratulations! Time for a break! You now reached your daily reading goal!
© Maria Stadnicka 2020
[From ‘Hermit Age’ sequence published in International Times on 25/01/2020.]
* Kolakowski, L. (2012) Is God Happy? Selected Essays, London: Penguin Modern Classics.