Origins as Ourobouros

by angeliska on November 28, 2004

A chilly night in Chi-town
and the wind is howling like
a disembodied thing, beating
against the glass, whispering
warnings or beseeching us
to walk out to the vast lake
and let it beat us in the face.
But I don’t think so.

Because inside it is warm,
a little too much so-
but I’ve got alchemy
engravings to copy out
and Asperger’s Syndrome to
fixate on.

I’m also discovering where
I come from. Or who,
really- these northern folks,
this lost family. Lost threads.

My great-grandfather’s family
came from Bohemia.
My great-grandmother came from
Wloclawek, Poland- a little town
on the Vistula River.
Her name was Hilda.
She wrote a book about
coming here, her
social and political activist work
and involvement
with Jane Addams and
Hull House.

It’s interesting to discover
that my family has always
been so socially and politically
active- deeply left-leaning,
socialist, communist,
supporters of women’s rights
and worker’s rights.
I suppose I knew these
things all along, but never
realized to what degree-
and learning now what kind
of people I came from has
given me some strength.

My great-aunt Dena,
(a very fascinating woman-
author and music librarian)
has given me a wealth of old
fotographs from family albums.
Nothing like seeing your relatives
as elfin infants in striped socks
and high-buttoned boots..

And my Grandfather!
The man truly blows my mind.
Actor, Magician, Puppeteer,
Director, Producer and
Television Pioneer!
Inventor of the Opticon Scillometer!
We visited the Museum
of Television and Radio

in New York to see if we
could find some footage of
the operas he translated
and directed (we did find
Salome and Down in The Valley)
And the curators there just
flipped out- it was kind of peculiar
to witness- these people to whom
my dear old grampa is something
of an icon..

He’s been telling me amazing stories
about meeting and working with
various unbelievable personages..
W.H. Auden, Kurt Weill, Louis Armstrong,
Toscanini, Leontyne Price.
Sometimes I fear my head may explode.

We went to visit his old friend
Studs Terkel yesterday morning,
who answered the door in his bathrobe
and kept offering us scotch.
The tales these two were spinning
were incredible- luckily, I recorded
most of it- wild anecdotes from the
days of blackballing and unrest.

We went tonight to the
Russian Tea Room for
pelmeni, black bread and borscht.
And for me, some lovely flavoured vodkas:
Coriander, Black Currant Tea and Lime.
Then to see the Chicago Symphony Orchestra-
Bartók’s Viola Concerto, o holy!

I think I may have changed my mind
and am never coming home.

One comment

[…] was Pips, which stood for “Pig-Iron Pete”, a character from a Unionist play his mother Hilda wrote – and that people also called him Chas, and Polly – for Polacheck, but that later in […]

by Angeliska Gazette › Charles Lessing Polacheck, R.I.P. on February 29, 2012 at 5:09 pm. Reply #

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