I listened intently to my co-traveller as he explored material we might draw on ahead of an imaginary time on Terra Two. He was exploring The X Files and the idea that ‘nothing actually happens’, resisting the narrative pressure and resting with a ‘no resolution’ ending, or more importantly, set of endings. This fascinating exploration of a TV series I could barely remember led me to start considering whether The X Files series was a precursor, maybe not to science fiction narratives, per se, but to the genres now currently on Netflix, particularly crime series such as The Killing, where this “no resolution” happens, or doesn’t happen, throughout the many episodes and series. One sits in the car with the protagonists watching as the rain pours torrents onto the windscreen. There is a great deal of activity and the detectives carry on getting in and out of the car, but throughout the entire body of work there is no resolution to a linear plot.
This has important resonance for the docudrama Truthmarks I am writing about my family spread across Europe. The characters (some have lived, some are completely fictional) take part in a ‘no resolution’ type of engagement in their episodic journeys across the whole of Europe, through the pogroms of Odessa, the Holocaust of eastern Europe and the Stasi rule behind the iron curtain. Suburban Nottingham is the equivalent of the inside of the car in The Killing.
Maybe the future for Terra Two with our continued movement of peoples, chaotic assimilations and dispersions is a set of narrative histories based on ‘nothing actually happens’. Subplots weave into each other with no particular requirement for any linear groupings or concern over time and subject. One of the chapters I wrote in part 1 of Truthmarks includes one of the lines of my published poetry being spoken by my Great Aunt Ida … I had imagined this before our collective discussion and wandered at the time of writing why it did not seem to matter, or even that every chapter seemed to be a cliff hanger about situations where there is no resolution and little actually happening in terms of cause and effect.
Here is the chapter and following it the published poem for anyone who wishes to sit in the car with me for just a few minutes as a time travelling detective in Truthmarks ….
(excerpt from TruthMarks by Julia Davis- Nosko) June 2018
Ida knew that the extended family would be at the house soon. She watched on the balcony now that the household had readied itself. Margolia was awake, her back straightened as she squeezed past the shutters, now open a crack, gently brushing aside the scalloped edge of the lace curtain. This pattern she imprinted into her palm; its shape, the gentle weave of the holes creating the tiny petal flowers. She would remember it in the long days to come. And as she remembered the pattern of the lace she would remember the two faces of her babies she would leave in this ground.
The memory would be kept. For now she must make her family safe. They must move together, as one, as the whole lace curtain fell as one piece, so they would weave their lives together, somewhere else. As she stood gripping the familiar balcony rail she covered Ida’s hand with her own. With her dark, sharp eyes Margolia burned every detail into her sight. For herself, for her future’s future. The heart shaped pattern of the wrought iron curling forever smaller into the rail. The onion shaped white domes, clear above the burning skyline. At her feet the dusk stamped the iron wrought pattern into the flagged stones into a shadow tinged with pink and gold.
“The others, they will be here soon, my dearest. Thank you for letting me sleep. I am here now.”
Margolia held her eldest daughter in her arms as they watched the pink and blue darken into the ultramarine of their Odessa night.
“Father has a berth for us all tomorrow out …Why are they doing this? Taking everything? Destroying, destroying…”
For answer came a searing shriek from the street below. A thud, then silence. In the long room with its elegant high backed chairs and polished wood the young boys had piled their mattresses ready for the journey. The cushions remained on the floor and on top of them three sleeping bundles, all dressed for the long arduous hours ahead. Agnes, Millie and Fanny lay curled into each other and each had a headscarf tied underneath their chins.
“We must all be ready for the big winds up on deck”, Ida had made it into a game seeing who could tie their own knot quickest. They would be hot in the morning. Each child was dressed in as many clothes as their small frames would allow.
Margolia and Ida now simply held hands.
“We will talk and sing of this, my dearest one. We shall be strong. There are people in Liverpool waiting for us. They will be there for us.”
Ida nodded at her mother. Now her large eyes seemed to widen and fill with a blackness that would never leave them.
“Abu, Abu. I must leave Abu.”
Margolia covered her daughters shoulders with her own shawl and smoothed the tiny rivulets of hair. She looked into the glazed eyes and understood that it was too late for Ida to forget. Of all of her children, Ida belonged to the canopy of the night in the Black Sea and the daylight of the pearl skies.
Ida began to sing one of the songs she had been composing with Agnes. It was a slow sigh of a song; a slow mingling of lullaby and prayer. Margolia patted the silk shawl once more and left her daughter on their balcony with her incantation:
“My last night, my last dusk in Odessa’s arms. Your eyes, your eyes, your eyes. Pearl, pearl my pearl, spread around me and take your sun gold into your treehair. Odessamama. Odessamama.”
odessa mama by Julia Davis-Nosko
Published in Dreamcatcher14 ISBN 09545015-2-7 2004
for I did not bring
your other daughter
you did not glimpse
you did not feel
and her eyes
on your clear blue skin
what she would have made
of your pearl
what she would have seen
in the sweet stroll
of your peoples walk
what she would have found
on this wide green bench
i am breaking
that I leave you
without gifting you
with my heart song
how can i let go now
as your wind palm
strokes my cheek goodbye
tempered with your
you leave me to listen
to your sounds
to hear your doves
and your trams
clearing their throats
Working in text, clay and textiles discovering poetry and narratives. Dichter; (poet/researcher, researcher/poet) Julia Davis-Nosko has published exhibited and performed internationally, including Nottingham Contemporay (Lodz Tapes) the Edinburgh Fringe (Demarco European Institute), Vitebsk (Belarus State Theatre). http://davisjulia.wixsite.com/julia-davis-nosko