mari poisson       1. The First Letter. About Alexandra and Anna 


       London, 27 July 2008, Sunday


       Beloved Sara,


       Thank you for the wonderfully insightfull letter I already received last week. Sure, I have received the second letter also, even more interesting, full of corporal experiences, reflections, vibrations and imitations. But I will not answer it yet. A dance, a couple, little team games, submission and violence, the same sisterhood… All this brings me a big wish to tune into myself, my here and now state and… and give myself a complete pleasure of being alive. Therefore now I answer the first letter only ;)


       I tell you up-front, not ratiocinating – I especially liked your experience of encroachment through overgrowths. God, I thought, all the time, even more than two years already I did nothing else but encroached through overgrowths of various kinds… All world is against me. I am an immigrant, newcomer, crone, illocal, unwanted, too good, too clever, too much self-confident, “from there”, I occupy somebody’s place under the sun, I surpass somebody, I am more talented than I am allowed to be, I am a woman, but I am an old woman, therefore men have no benefit in me, just extra problem – a pain in the neck – as they say here… Nobody likes that I always win… Well, but what should I do? So I fall to intrude, compete, climb into outlandish teritories, demonstrate my certain traits and sometimes my courage to fight, hide in the same overgrowths, lurk, hardily wait for my chance, endure loneliness, sadness, hunger, hostility of other (almost exeptionally women) people, sometimes even unmasked hatred and… to win the secret war at the end… Yes. And win. As strange as it seems I am always successful in that. The problem is that when I win, when I thrust, I always realise that I have thrusted in vain. There is nothing there inside. Nothing. The same shrubs, rubbish and owergrowths. And I, exhausted like a frazzle myself… I have squandered raft of time and energy for thrusting. Especially energy. Because it is still difficult for me to escape the strange feeling that I most often want to call panic…


       Yes, you say correctly – theraphy of communication. It is badly needed by me (by me also!), sister. How well I understand You! I can’t express that in words! To date I have only one real friend on London, Alexandra. I have written You about her more than once already. She is a young Pole and has just (this spring) maintained a thesis for doctor’s degree in Germany. Her paper was written in English, not from German or Polish, but Irish literature. She analyses three modern Irish authors (exactly, modern). Frank McCourt (the one who has written “Angela’s Ashes”), Roddy Doyle and one more, I suddenly forgot his name. (Maybe I’ll tell You later – I will ask Alexandra). Plus she works and lives in London and her brother who is two years younger studies politics in Dublin.


       On Wednesday Alexandra’s mother Anna flew in. So, you can see the circle of two friends expanded a lot ;)) The mother is much younger than me, she works as a Polonist in Technical library and does not know English at all. She knows Russian quite well, therefore we can by-talk when the daughter cannot hear ;) Because she is very angry that we speak Russian. She expects that her mother suddenly will learn English in some way. I know, as all daughters she wants her mother to be uncommon. Though, to tell you the truth, indeed she is. She looks absolutely clerisy. She is in such… in some, I don’t know how to say it… spirit of Russian manor intelligetsia… Elevated, calm, mysterious, well-read, dressed in a subtle way… Alexandra claims (when mother does not hear her) that she just looks that way – absolutely clerisy, but in fact she is not like this. It is just impossible to believe that! I think Alexandra just says so, and yet she does that because of this ill-fated English.


       But I have to confess that I am really very pleased to be in Anna’s company. If it was not so,  most probably I would have refused ballet that we came to see together even three times this week already. (A lovely coincidence - both of us are ballet fans). But this is not the most important. The most important is that when I go anywhere with Anna I feel like a real noble lady. Like she I start to bear quetly, subtle, elevated. I have heard that in opera we were slandered behind our backs, they said we were Russian, because they heard us speaking Russian… Maybe I am a snob, but this is extraordinary pleasant for me. People notice us in such a crowd ;) I sense, that Anna feels the same. It reveals itself that Anna and I play such a pair game without any agreement to do so. Yesterday I sworn her almost seriuosly that I would become a Polonist and with the time I would speak to her only in Polish, like our Lithuanian nobility did at those old times when Lithuania and Poland was one state. Her erudition would be a wonderful subject for the discourses…


       My thoughts about the ballet I will write in the next letter – I do not want to expand here very much. Still, since we started to talk about that, we have a Mikhailovsk

       ballet on tour here. They say the ballet is from Sankt Petersburg. It is supported by some terribly rich wealthy man. All tours in London were planned not for money but only to make the said ballet known in the world. People spoke that instead of placing ads in press and TV that wealthy man just ransomed big part of tickets and later gave them to potential lettered spectators with the hope that later they would spread a word among their friends and acquaintances: aha, I was there, I saw, I watched – remarkably fine ballet. Such was an odd promotion without promotion…  Well, finaly it was not important, since the ballet was gorgeous indeed. I go to the stake for it! Thanks to Alexandra (she got those famous free tickets for me and her mother) I saw as I said (only this week) even three performances: “Spartacus” on Wednesday (Anna arrived to the performance directly from the airport), “Giselle” on Friday and concert farewell performance which took place today, on Sunday, at 3 p.m. I liked everything very much. Everything was superb. With certain overkills that are typical to the Russian temper. For instance in “Spartacus” once there were over two hundred dancers on the stage at the same time. And “Giselle”  - that second act, which takes place as if in posthumous world – sea of jammy transparent girls in white long dresses, picturing souls personated in wild swans – just fantastic. To be precise, fantasy.


       Ok, maybe I should stop writing. Either way I have boasted without measure. Though, to be honest, sometimes conscience hop! and starts and starts to nag so much – I should not take tours to ballet, but study Latin intensive… But I say to it (conscience): shut up! Only God knows what is more important – Russian ballet or British Library project. Latin or Polish, studies in solitude or silent walk with Anna in London Coliseum (because of the language barrier).


       Besides, yesterday absolutely by chance I found Wilkie Collins’ “The Woman in White” among my old books. I even could not remember when I bought it. Real miracle! As if somebody has tucked it in right time at the right place… Tonight, I decided, I will read it. I cannot wait to dip into madly subtle fantasies…


       Really, Sara, it would be very interesting for me to know what do You think about fantasy? Is it only a camouflage for you, a possibility to hide and remain unidentified, certain form of escaping here and now? Or is it something else? Something… I don’t know. How to call it? I’d like to say politics, but this word does not fit here at all… Like a foreign body… Isn’t it? But I cannot think of anything more precise…


       Kiss you ;) Waiting for your letter ;)




       2. The Second Letter. About Ole 


       London, 31 August 2008


       Dear Sara,


       Well, first of all I will tell You about Ole whom You have recommended. Last Thursday she came to my creative writing tutorial at last and gave me honour to see her with my own eyes ;) There it is, I have to say that from the description we always imagine a person a bit different and I most probably have had perverted picture of hers: I thought she was unhealthy naïve. Almost like her pupils. Just older, of course. To tell you the truth I was a little afraid that we would not understand each other and she would not belong to my settled group like some turkey in the company of hens or a swan among ducks. But everything went all right. Don’t be afraid J)) She was unrepeatable if it is possible to express my experience in a word.


       First of all during the first minutes of the lesson it became clear that she did not know any literary facts at all and was completely not well-read. There it is, she did not know what did Headless Horseman mean.


       I told her it was not important, she did not need to know, she had only few sentences to write on this theme, those which first came to her mind. Then she did not flounder at all and said very loudly (too loud?) that she knew what a Fish without water meant, because she was that fish herself. And a Headless Horseman likely was a man whose head “didn’t count”. One of the women kind of started to ask what this “didn’t count” meant, but others made her silent telling that there were such men whose head “didn’t count” to the utmost. Besides it was more than clear to them why he was  a “horseman“ and not some middling man. Then Ole asked: but why? She asked somehow not naively but alarmed, as if she would have to make something certain and examine correctness of her own thoughts. One answers her that at the time a man rides, he looses his head altogether, to be precise he looses any ability to think. If he would not ride, in other words if he were not a horseman his head would have been right where it belongs. Everybody giggled silently. Ole did not. She just shrugged her shoulders, lowered her eyes, but I was quick enough to notice that she got irritated. I think because of this giggle I have mentioned. Or maybe she felt herself a little humiliated, considered greenhorn and not sophisticated... Or maybe she thought womens’ talk was brute, obscene... I quickly stopped all discussions and told them to sketch appearance of this Headless Horseman. Ole said that it might became clear that this Headless Horseman was a woman. I wanted to answer that it might be so but later I replied no. The Horseman is always a man. In the same way that river is always a woman. I said this only because I seeked my pedagogical purpose: my women hated to depict naked men, their genitals, their bodies, their proportions. But if the Horseman was headless, there was nowhere to hide – you had to portray him. At least a little bit. Because he could not speak – did not have head ;))))


       Aha. And  I would not tell You what this O-le-So-le-To-le of Yours wrote. I will leave it for You to guess yourself ;) For the sake of intrigue ;))


       Later, after the lesson Alexandra’s mother Anna and I went to sit-down in the cafe of National Galery. To be exact she was waiting for me there already. Right here I want to insert a remark that I like it very much when Anna (and Alexandra also) are never late as it is accepted among women. They do not behave in a way I could feel myself like a man: always coming to a date earlier than a lady, waiting as long as it is needed and later paying for everything ;))) At the same time bon ton dictates a lady to be late at least fifteen minutes and do not worry that you sit, wait for her, waste your time which you could spend more interesting.


       So, while I was leading my seminar, Anna bought a big reproduction of the picture “Venus and Mars” by Botticelli at the Galery’s shop. Mars there is depicted like a absolutely naked young strong man, who is lying on his back and is deadly drowned himself in sleep, but Venus is not asleep. Far from that ;))) She sits on the other side of their couch dressed in a long nightdress with long sleeves, has beautifully fixed hair and stares to deadly asleep Mars with admiring and wide-opened eyes. If there would not have been cupids flying around and a tail of her nightgown would not casually cover Mars’ genitals and their legs under this nightdress would not be interlaced (also casually), you could think that sex here really “doesn’t count” ;)


       It was quiet and silent in the cafe, very few people. I told Anna a little about the Headless Horseman, because this reproduction she bought turned in that side very much. Also I told her about Ole a bit. To be honest we even discussed what prospects Ole had. I said she was obviously somehow strange, clearly talented, maybe she would make a good writer, because as reader she was nobody at all ;) Anna also thinks so. In fact, know it, Anna is a magnificent reader and that’s it. She is my friend, but never attends my creative writing seminars. She said that if there were no good readers, what would all of us poor writers do? I like such position. There is mortal lack of good readers when you think...


       Later we took a small walk because weather was serene. We talked about genres (I don’t know why – it just came into conversation), about You and of course Zhiogaichiai village where You live. I tried to elucidate everything realisticly. But I know well that Zhiogaichiai village in her head turned to some romantic Polish village or steading and became so Polish, so much Polish, that even You would not recognize it for any money ;)


       When yesterday I came back home to my international appartment, young Brasilian couple were quarreling so loudly in their room that it resounded even at the street. But that does not touch me. I am used. They argue almost every day. They make love also very loudly and every day, that is for sure... I do not know how to react to that. I react in such a way: make my TV louder ;)))


       I will stop here. I am going to make something to eat... Because of the mess in our common kitchen cooking has lost all its charm to me long time ago... But what can I do...


       Kiss You. I am waiting for letters. Write me about your success in all those literary experiments you mentioned last time.



       Translated by Virginija Dičiūtė