kindness of strangers

spring peaces

spring peaces
Written by Cathoel Jorss,

The hottest bath imaginable. Coconut oiled my hair. Wrapped head to hip in towels. New book and early to bed, ahhh thank you blissful alone time. I can hear people on the street outside cobbling and shouting, gearing up for their Friday night, and it just seems to drift by like leaves on the wind.

I have to hand an Abdullah Ibrahim album which just never tires. Here come the well-placed stepping stones down into the deeper river, where he seems to pick up both of his hands together as though they were horses’ reins and we are ready to go down together, ready to immerse. I am thinking of that Ted Hughes poem that moves me so dearly, Wodwo. “What am I?.. very strange but I’ll/go on looking.” The sparkling splashes thrown up by the pianist like clots of gleaming mud from effortlessly racing hooves reach me from the next room. I love these high ceilings. I love the sense of resting and nestling in a little, after all the long line of moves from apartment to apartment and from town to town. It’s good to stay home on the lean-in to the weekend and to have no one waiting for me, no one who expects anything. It feels rare. It feels like music resting on my skin.

I just downloaded my photographs from the week and was glad to see they begin with a walk in the slightly greening forest over Easter, there is colour in the pictures now, life revives and the dank sour world underground can be escaped, at last, the old winter closes. In the sunshine today I walked all the way up to the junction to pay my rent and stood in line with all the Germans who were sorting out their Friday afternoon banking. Courteously we turned to one another to indicate when a machine fell free. I love participating in these almost sensual German community signals, by which everyone lovingly tends one another. In the vestibule which separates the cold air without from the heated air within a woman sat with her colourful cup, a ruined junkie’s face, on a tiny square of cardboard she has folded. Outside, another addict held the door back, broadly, smilingly, for everyone who enters and then offers up his greasy paper cup with its few coins. I walked home slowly in the last of the sunshine, our second sunny day since perhaps October, it has been delicious and chill and fresh. I lack the local knowledge to dress for the right weather so when the sun comes out I’m always caught out too cold, it’d just hard for me to picture it can be so sunny and still so frigid. My hands turned hard on the handlebars this morning and I pedalled harder, past all the drug dealers lining the entrances to the park, past the leafless trees, past the falafel stand the size of an ice cream cart, past the bins. In the afternoon I did the banking and then when all my errands were done and I was walking home I bought a plant, a long, trailing gout of ivy in a hanging basket, and carried it home through everyone’s smiles at the sunshine and at each other and at this greenery, this grasping for greenery we all have here just now. The man in the plant shop introduced himself when I was leaving. His name is Kadir. He is Turkish and lived most of his life on Cyprus, where he had another plant shop; he says he has only been in Berlin for a month. He handed me a flower, a purple short stemmed tulip, and I tucked it into the mop of my overgrown basket having chosen the most outrageously florid ivy specimen from the back of his uppermost shelf.

The flower was in recognition I think of where our conversation began, which was when I was fingering the piney-scented sage pots and he came outside to find out what was happening on the noisy roadside outside his shop. A commotion had occurred. I don’t think I caused it but I did make it worse and now I was standing with my back to the road, burying my fingers in the lambs’ ear softness of the leaves and my heart pounding, hoping I was not about to get set upon. Over my shoulder I saw the car drive away, having idled a long, threatening minute, and then the man Kadir from the shop came out and we began to talk normally. What happened was that as I stopped for the plants, the pots of flowers, the buckets of lilies, a woman gorgeous with long straight black hair swinging pushed aside the man she was with, saying something in Turkish which could have been playful or not playful. It was hard to tell. I watched covertly. He shoved her. He took hold of her ungently. He pushed her down into the car and went round the driver’s side to get in.

Across the screen of the greenery I shouted. “Hey! Hey.” I made my voice dark and authoritative: people can see you, people see. He glanced at me, hesitated only a moment, went back round to the kerb side of the vehicle and opened up her door, and bending to the level of her face he inserted his head into the car and roared something right at her. Slammed the door shut on her then went round and got in and revved the engine. I put the plant down and scuttled. Was frightened. Wasn’t sure what to do. Was frightened for her. I tapped with my knuckles on her window. She turned a startled face, shrinking, crying out in fear. Oh, my god, woman, do not let this fear take up its residence in your sunny female heart. He leaned across her and opened the window. I said – something. “Misbrauchen Sie sie nicht!”, don’t mistreat her, something far too formal and grammatically scrambled. Reaching across her the man shoved the passenger door open on me sharply, trying to push me off balance. I skipped out of his reach, wondering: now, would he get out. There were people everywhere. Or would he – yes, he just turned back to her and they turned to each other and I could hear her plaintive reasoning tones as I walked away across the only very shallow pavement and buried my attention in the sage for dear life, holding the soft furry leaf wrapped tightly round my index finger, waiting for him to go away, waiting for them all to just go away.

8 comments on “spring peaces

  1. It’s OK for women to be mysterious. Trouble is the men who don’t know what they are.

    Russell April 8, 2016 at 3:34 pm

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