Monday, December 04, 2006
The Black Icon. Third mini-chapter
Now, eight years later, Sophia lay under her tile roof, sighing as she breast-fed the new baby. "So what if Michael has golden hands?" she asked herself, "All I do is work and raise children. Just how is my life different from that of anyone else in the village?" She recalled an old Jewish woman's observation a years back, when Sophia had been told that the Ukrainians were working people and that was the extent of their genius. "Now I believe it," Sophia said to herself.
The baby leat out a series of slow burbles and began worrying the breast, nudging it playfully. "Finally had enough, have you? Yout hungry little squire. Just because you have that thing between your legs you think you're entitled to everything, don't you my lord?"
"Hmgurff," said the baby.
Time to christen the baby. "Genyk," they decided to call him Sophia has insisted on the name. Genyk was good
enough for her grandfather, wlho had once been reeve of the village, and the name was good enough for MIchael's first son.
Michael, busy and preoccupied, couldn't care what the name would be. He had a son, and that was the main thing. Before Genyk, there had been Katerina, and how helpful she already was with Sophia recovering from the birth
Now Sophia, strong and healthy once more, left Genyk in charge of little Katerina and was back in the fields.
On her knees, digging up the pototoes, smelling the black earth, pausing every so often to stare at the hoary old man clouds, thrusting the spade into the earth, prying it up, watching the tubers jerk up through the moist humus. Sun beating down, bringing a little faintness every time sho rose to go to the next clump.
It had been the same when she had stayed with her grandmother. The endless work, the mind-numbing fatigue at the end of each day. Now, with two children and the house mortgaged to pay the bills, there seemed to be no end to this. It would take years to pay everything off. And Michael wasn't getting much work, with talk of war and all.
Lately, he had taken to drinking.
He would come in from the Korchma, all smiles, eyes glazed, trying to make love to her and she, in her anger would hit him with whatever was handy."You should be glad of such a man,:" he would protest while fending off the blows. "Most Galicians beat their wives."She would let fly with the broom. "A saint, you married a goddam saint," he would cry while locking himself up in the children's bedroom.
He was such a curiouls creature. Bright, stupid, pompous, humble, cheap, generous, conceited, modest. Sophia still could not figure him out. Making love like a whirlwind, rising up in the morning like a tyrant and crying over the children's trifles at night; going to a wedding and becoming the drunkest one there, dancing with everyone in sight, boots flying, on table tops, over the flat claytop stoves, upon which people slept at night, ,singing of his Hutsulka, mountain girl sweetheart, kissing every woman in sight. But if any man would as much as look at Sophia, she knew from experience that Michael would flatten him. Sophia did not know whether she loved or hated him.
"He's a fool," she finally decided, filling her last bag, tying the cord and lifting the sack up on her shoulders to carry it towards the house. There woul be nine more of these potato bags before the sun would hang red above the trees flanking the Towmach brook past the village.
.........end Black Icon, Chapter Three.
AH THE SPIRIT IS WILLING BUT THE FLESH IS WEAK.
THIS INSTALLMENT WOULD HAVE BEEN SO EFFECTIVE IF I INCLUDED MICHAEL'S "SOLILEQUE", BUT THE FLU BUG HAS GOT ME AND MY COMPUTER IS BEDEVILLING ME.
SO ALL WE'VE GOT UP TODAY IS THIS MINI-CHAPTER.