Up Late with Dmitri

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.

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