We all have cracks and tears and shattered glass within our souls. Some have more than others. We do not wish to seek one who has none; but we wish to find the one who can say “look at me, look at this.” We wish to find the one who sees every bit of broken glass and who will put those pieces into the palms of our hands and say “please keep them.” And we wish to be that kind of person, too. This is how it should be.
Is it possible to empathize with those who have made choices that inflict pain on themselves and those around them?
These three poems, Fractures, were written in 2012 for an operatic recital called The Other Woman. They were also part of the inspiration for an earlier blog post called Of Mud and Poetry Contests and are linked to synkroniciti even though they predate her founding. It was during the time that they were written and performed that I began to have the ideas that would become synkroniciti.
Triangles, magdalen, and Homecoming served as linking material between musical pieces arranged to reveal a desperate love triangle. To me, these poems are like tortured postcards from people who are falling apart. The difficulty was to make them stark and descriptive without being sentimental and avoiding either judgment or excuse. Words skip across the page as if they were cut from a magazine and pasted together, enhancing the feeling that the fabric of human thought has been destroyed and communication lines are fractured. All that is left are snippets of feelings, almost too painful to endure, and lifeless memories.
It has often struck me that those who develop relationships outside of proscribed limits are judged as harshly as murderers and rapists, sometimes even more so. If they inflict pain and damage on themselves and those around them, isn’t that enough without observers adding their disapproval? Some might argue that this disapproval is necessary to keep others from such behavior, but I wonder if it doesn’t just serve to make it more attractive to those who are desperate to rebel. The greatest reason to avoid any risky type of behavior should not be a fear of punishment, but a fear of inflicting pain.
These poems are an attempt to empathize with both the betrayed and the betrayer, realizing that we all carry within us our own breaking point. Perhaps this is the reason for our harshness.
I didn’t have any vices before the Internet. There are a lot of cracks in the day, moments where you don’t know what to do next, so you have a little hole where you look at your phone. You want something that will mean you’re not alone in that moment.
Less than 4 feet at its widest point, Keret House, the narrowest residence in the world, isn’t for the claustrophobic.
Polish architect Jakub Szczesny is famous for radical thinking inside a very small box. One day, as he walked through Warsaw, he had the idea that he could fit a very small domicile in a narrow 5 foot gap between an old tenement and a tower block at 22 Chłodna Street and 74 Żelazna Street. His drawings, which debuted in 2009, were considered a fantastic flight of fancy that would most likely never be built. In 2011, the architecture collective Centrala took on the expensive and innovative project.
The result is Keret House, named after its first resident, Israeli writer Etgar Keret, who used the space as a work studio. Keret’s personal ties to the area are deep. The house lies within the former Warsaw Ghetto, where the Nazis deposited and confined over 400,000 Jews. Keret’s mother, Orna, was one of them. As a child, she slipped through cracks in the ghetto to scavenge food for herself, her father, mother and younger brother. By chance or synchronicity, this structure is built in the very place of a Nazi checkpoint. She had to sneak past soldiers here every day in order to return successfully to her family, who all perished in those horrific and unimaginable days, leaving her alone in the world. The idea of living in this crack in Warsaw gave him a chance to interface with her story in a powerful and transformative way. If you would like to read his thoughts, please click here. Although Keret House contains amenities that Orna could not have imagined during World War II and none of the terrors of that time, it presents its own challenges. It is as if the stubborn persistence of humanity has found a way to take root in an impossible place, much like a weed growing up through a sidewalk.
The building itself is incredibly small, with an interior living space that is, at most, 47 inches wide and, at its narrowest, a slim 28 inches. The entire space is about 46 square feet. Polish law doesn’t allow for a residence to built to such small specifications, so it is classified as an art installation. The steel frame is covered by a thin semi-transparent polycarbonate sheeting that allows sunlight in, keeping the building light and airy, and maximizes the size of the former alleyway. There are two windows, which do not open, and the interior is painted white to guard against claustrophobia. Electricity is obtained from a neighboring building, while Keret House has its own water and sewage technology, unconnected to Warsaw’s water systems.
Video via Deutsche Welle English on YouTube.
There is a bedroom on the second (top) floor, while downstairs contains a kitchen, a bathroom and a living room. The kitchen accommodates a tiny sink and stovetop as well as a refrigerator with space for two beverages. If you need to use the restroom after drinking all that liquid, the bathroom is separated from the kitchen by a sliding door which doesn’t look completely opaque. That would be a deal breaker for me, I think. Oh, and you can take a shower while you’re on the toilet, if you’re in a hurry.
There’s a ten foot ladder at the street entrance. This leads to a large trapdoor, sort of a glorified attic access door, that you need to clamber through and close so that you can stand on it. This is the apartment landing, from which you can climb a short ladder to get onto the first floor. You need to be reasonably fit as well as small to live here, and sleep walkers should not try it. Changing floors means climbing ladders installed in the space. If you feel like Spiderman, Szczesny says you can even climb on the steel structure itself. It’s an ideal space for an artist who doesn’t want any distractions and is guaranteed to curb the impulse for hosting wild parties. Apparently, eight people once fit in the Keret House simultaneously, but no one left with any desire to do that again!
When did we see each other face-to-face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out.
I hope to refine music, study it, try to find some area that I can unlock. I don’t quite know how to explain it but it’s there. These can’t be the only notes in the world, there’s got to be other notes some place, in some dimension, between the cracks on the piano keys.
Count the times. The number of times you have seen the silence of another world seep though a crack. The number of times you have heard the sea trying to escape from the blue painted wall.
You have to be careful of the cracks. Sometimes they are disguised as something else. A doorway, or a smile or even a winking eye. And if you fall through them, you never know where you will end up.
―Isobelle Carmody, Greylands