Yalta, Ukraine

FROM ‘MARA, MARIETTA’
Intermezzo 8: Zina

Dirt and nicotine turn the blue walls green in this derelict room where I lie. As the blown-glass lamp spills its yellowy light onto the worn floorboards, faded colours weave talismanic figures into the tattered carpet. From a vodka bottle, poppies drop their petals onto the tabletop. The urn by the washbasin, its red stars and vortices dancing in flowers and foliate green, reminds me there once was a curtain here.

Isaak Brodsky, Bed, 1909

Alexei von Jawlensky, Sleeping Woman, 1909

Zina is asleep…

Zina then spoke of her Tatar heritage. The Stalin-ordered deportation, the difficulty of restoring rights in a culture of lies.

Her mother supporting the two of them after her father died. Teaching piano, sometimes surviving only thanks to the fruitful garden.