Riga, Latvia

FROM ‘MARA, MARIETTA’
Intermezzo 2: Vika

I’ve been walking the empty beach, Marietta, I’ve been walking the empty streets, threading my heart through the ghost of you. Yes, here in this city on the Baltic Sea, I’ve been walking in beauty and squalor, haunted by memories of you. The sun-and-rain mirror my eyes, the seagulls’ cry echoes the crows’, but resplendent is my dereliction because I did indeed speak true.

Sitting beyond the shadow of her destiny, Vika sips her Krāslavas beer. From gunmetal to clear blue her eyes veer as she celebrates her freedom: Once I’d have been condemned to die here. The grinding of a streetcar rounding a curve leads to a conversation about Frida Kahlo; a palimpsest of graffiti under peeling paint leads to an exchange about John Lennon: Vika says her father once got arrested for writing ‘Beatles’ on a wall. Tar and rust and gasoline, oily brine and dust: Vika rubs her eyes and slips on her sunglasses. She smiles as I stare through her grey-green disguise; holding her gaze, I caress her cheek.