by Suzi Mezei
Fear is like consuming too much Shostakovich and pálinka
after everyone else has succumbed to sleep
and even the moon can’t bear your company.
Fear is when you fail to herd your wily thoughts
and they run amok on the plains in your head
in an unrelenting stampede
and you are left to their crush,
it is the onslaught of violins and flutes
that pose unanswerable questions.
The Fifteenth is sharp, festooned with shards
of percussion and William Tell,
it fills the unwilling nocturne’s ear with sugar
then with broken glass
and reflects the chaos on which she’s built.
Every pause thereafter leaves space
for her foreboding,
a bitter slide down cello strings
into unavoidable labyrinths.
Fear is knowing that despite Stalin’s death
and the warmth of sour cherries
on the rough of your tongue,
you will continue
to build your own gulags.
Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich Symphony No. 15 in A major
A precursor: I really don’t know that much about classical music. But Shostakovich’s unsettling symphony connects deeply with me. It seems to reflect both a disquiet state of mind and the pace of unrelenting circumstance. The soviet connection: I married into a Hungarian family so discussions around oppression and the uprising were often softened with a good drop of pálinka (Hungarian fruit brandy) either shop bought or my mother-in-law Mariska’s moonshine version.
Suzi Mezei is a Melbourne writer whose work has appeared in several anthologies and performed at La Mama. She is currently studying. It’s September at the moment and she is missing attending film festivals with her best MIFF buddy. She aspires to write in Morocco one day but only if she can take her dogs and husband with her.