Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Chopin with Cherries in English and Polish (Vol. 6, No. 1)

On January 10, 2015, the Foothill Poetry Festival at the Sunland-Tujunga Library presented five poets reading their work in the original, native languages and in English. We heard Vietnamese (Teresa Mei Chuc), Serbian and Russian (Mira Mataric), Spanish (Elsa Frausto, who organized the event), Armenian ( ) and Polish.  In addition to the four poems I managed to read, I prepared a translation into Polish of "A Study with Cherries" - the title poem from "Chopin with Cherries" anthology published in 2010.  That poem and its translation were finally read at the Village Poets Monthly Reading at the Bolton Hall Museum, on January 25, 2015.

A pomegranate flower bud by Maja Trochimczyk

The story is a compilation of several childhood memories, from long hours spent in the attic of my grandparents house in Trzebieszow, and in the comfortable branches of a walnut tree. Nobody could climb the cherry trees: we were not allowed, the branches were too fragile and would crack easily. Instead, adults could climb a very tall ladder and bring down sour cherries to stain our fingers and chin. But the walnut was strong, with thick smooth limbs, ideal for climbing even by a clumsy little girl. The green, smooth, fresh walnuts were drying on layers of newspapers in the warm attic, and the children spent rainy mornings and afternoons trying to peel the yellowish skin off the white, sweet nuts, quite different from the shrivelled brains of the dried ones. 

"White" - for those rare individuals endowed with the phenomenon of synaesthesia, color hearing, was the "neutral" key of C-major, hence the association of the whole poem with that key, though the dark red cherries called for a piece of music in an entirely different set of harmonies, I'd think A-Flat Major. For Oliver Messiaen, Alexandre Skriabin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Liszt and Marta Ptaszynska, keys and sound complexes were of different colors, not the same from one author to the next. 


A ja chcę czereśnie
Słodziutkie czereśnie
Chce poczuć ciemne nuty soku
Na mojej skórze
Jak krople deszczowego preludium
W mżawce poranka

W obłoku fortepianu
Wspinam się na czereśnię
Szukam ukojeniawśród kruchych gałęzi
Cieszę się doskonałością czerwieni
Czereśniową muzyką od samego rana

Nasycona, śpiąca
Chowam się w ciemnościach strychu
By łupać orzechy, obierać gorzką skórkę
Odsłaniać biały miąższ
Studium w tonacji C-dur

Smakuję marzenia
Akordy płyną przez szpary
Starych belek wypełnione światłem

To codzienny rytuał mojej babuni
Popołudnie z Chopinem
Rose bud, by Maja Trochimczyk

Here's the famous Etude in White:

Chopin: Etude in C Major, Op. 10, No. 1 
played by Evgeny Kissin (in a white jacket!)

... and now an Etude in a darker color, perhaps the rich burgundy 
of overripe cherries :

Chopin: Etude in A-Flat Major, Op. 25, No. 1  "The Aeolian Harp"
Played by Maurizio Pollini (with the score)

or maybe in an incessant raindrops falling on the leaves 
and round, ripe fruit, glistening when the sun peeks from under the clouds:

Chopin: Etude in A-Flat Major, Op. 10, No. 10
Played by Yulianna Avdeeva 

Or, again, maybe melancholy, in a velvet mood of orchard swapped in the morning fog:

 Chopin: Etude in A-Flat Major, from Trois Nouvelles Etudes
Played by Stephen Malinowski (with a graphic score, just look)
Played by Vladimir Aszkenazy (twice as fast, perhaps too fast)


After Etude in C Major, Op. 10, No. 1 and a cherry orchard of 
my grandparents, Maria Anna and Stanislaw Wajszczuk

I want a cherry,
a rich, sweet cherry
to sprinkle its dark notes
on my skin, like rainy preludes
drizzling through the air.

Followed by the echoes
of the piano, I climb
a cherry tree to find rest
between fragile branches 
and relish the red perfection -
morning cherry music.

Satiated, sleepy,
I hide in the dusty attic.
I crack open the shell
of a walnut to peel
the bitter skin off,
revealing white flesh -
a study in C Major.

Tasted in reverie,
the harmonies seep
through light-filled cracks
between weathered beams
in Grandma's daily ritual
of Chopin at noon.

(c) 2010 by Maja Trochimczyk

Rainy Rose by Maja Trochimczyk