literature

Picasso in the pool / Picasso en la piscina

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The Swimmer. Picasso. 1929.

Picasso in the pool 

The cap tugs my thin hair, pulling it at the roots, right near where I have my goggle strap. It really hurts, but is nothing compared to the ice cold water that awaits. There is no easy way to get into a pool and get it over with. I’ve tried all the options and attest, nothing works to assuage the bloodcurdling jolt it gives your heart on entry.

I scan the poolside. The serious set is here. One broad shouldered amazon does her arm swings. She twirls from the shoulder blades like a whipper snipper.

I place my kick board at the slow lane as a swimmer shoots off from the wall end, gliding beneath the surface of the water in pursuit of the next lap. That is the thing I paddle and splash for. That kick-off from the wall. Even in the slow lane, you never feel slow doing that.

*

Picasso en la piscina

El gorro de nadar hala mis cabellos delgados desde sus raíces, muy cerca de donde el caucho de las gafas se ubica, realmente duele, pero no se compara con el agua congelada que me espera. No hay una manera más sencilla de entrar a una piscina y terminar de una vez, sin embargo después de agotar todas mis opciones e intentos, nada funciona para reducir los espantosos escalofríos del primer contacto con el agua.

Al revisar la orilla veo que la bañista elite está presente, hombros anchos y poderosos sacuden sus brazos haciéndola girar como una guadaña.

Esto sucede mientras ubico mi tabla de patear sobre el muro que marca la línea destinada para los nadadores lentos. En la siguiente vuelta se que esta es la razón por la que remo y salpico en el agua al notar que pronto me alejo de la pared inicial. Sin importar que te encuentres en la línea lenta, nunca te sientes lento haciendo esto.

Translation: Fabian Rodriguez

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Bolero and Ochre

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I have in my possession a little tin jar whose contents, once opened, storm the senses whilst weaving and dancing through my cuisine with the stamp of smoky feet. It burns the floor red and bites the tongue. This little tin receptacle contains pimentón dulce (sweet, spicy paprika) first sourced from a Spanish Vendor in Borough Markets London. I’d spotted it while meandering past the dry and fleshy jamones as they slid and fell into hefty mounds, trophies of the cheeky butchers that carved them in constant secession. 

I’ve learnt that where your pimentón dulce hails from is important. In fact there are even Denominations of Origin for paprika the most esteemed being the southeastern Spanish coastal province of Murcia.

My little tin is old worldly labelled Bolero and boasts a dancing couple posturing with the whisper of ruffling crimson and petticoats. It sits beside me as I write. Admiring its label, I pick it up and with clumsy fingers, drop the tin with a clunk to the floor. Cursing my fate and tendency to drop and break whatever dainty article comes my way, I instead look to my lap and below and there it lies, like vermillion ochre, coating my seat and painting the floor like in ceremonious ritual. I can’t help but breathe deeper, inhaling through my nose as the air grows in dimension- sweet and smoky. I am reminded of paellas and the sizzle of chorizo that claims my husband’s breath after huevos rancheros. There allover the hard wood floor of our little art deco apartment here in Melbourne, lies the earth of Murcia, the ochre of Murcia.

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The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway and little 8 year old me…

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Hemingway
Hemingway

Hemingway’s prose puts little anchors in my soul that gently tug and coax at it and sometimes thrust at it so strongly that tears quell up in my eyes and my throat crackles.

I’m re-reading The Old Man and the Sea for the first time since I first turned the brittle leaves of my Dad’s paperback copy as an eight year old outgrowing the bookshelf contents faster than my school shoes.

I first read The Old Man and the Sea in a cottage surrounded by more books than money and it did not take long to reach the top shelves where mum placed the heavier literature. One afternoon my Mum’s book suggestions were exhausted so instead I tugged on my dad’s shoulder and asked him for an offering.

“Hemingway”, he mumbled when my prompting urged him to name his favorite author as he sat in his chair wearing his navy woolen rib jumper.

And so it was that my mum took the wooden ebony stained chair into the lounge room to begin the arduous ritual of uncovering this time a slim dark blue coloured paperback with pages that smelt of dust and memories and even a few scattered pencil markings and annotations. She found the book, even though she and Dad thought it would perhaps be too advanced for my ken. And so I read Hemingway at 8. This is not a statement I make to be lauded but rather something that now places me in a unique vantage point for I seldom have ever re-read books (except for the Scarlet Pimpernel, I evade returning to even my beloved favorites for isn’t life too brief for that with its endless sea of unread prose waiting to break at the shore?) Now I am reading my father’s favourite once more I find myself catching ripples of memory of reading it as a kid and it feels like I’m 8 all over again except there is an undercurrent of appreciation for the author that my 8 year old mind never noticed. The imagination was strong in those days and unhampered by the necessities of survival such that I saw no line between the writer’s bait and hook and my imagination, the “great strong fish” caught by Hemingway.

“Fish,” he said softly, aloud, “I’ll stay with you until I’m dead”

The Old Man and the Sea. Hemingway.