It is almost always summer
In my dreams and in my memories it is almost always summer in Ukraine. Late July, August. Hot with a warm breeze, and maybe cool late at night when we walk by the river after dark.
It’s a warm evening, after a bright, hot day in Kiev. I’m sitting on a narrow old balcony, high above the street, in the Kommuna. Lera gently holds Hans to her face and kisses his nose. The sleek, gold-brown rat wriggles, and sniffs. He’s a friendly soul and I manage to stroke him, suppressing my impulse to flinch. I’m ravenous from carving stone all day in the heat. Lera knows and without really asking hands me a little bowl of something delicious (as she does most days). It might be tvorog with smetana and honey, or some vegetables and rice. I’ve brought a bottle of wine.
We’re laughing from the heat and joy: of being artists, of being young and beautiful running free in this city reborn. We’ve run down the steps to the water’s edge. Later, we’re on a wooded island in the Dnipro not far from the city centre. A small cardboard box is laid gently on the dusty path. Sasha opens it carefully and coaxes out the scared little inhabitant. In the quiet gloom, we’ve fallen silent and watch as the tiny hedgehog unfurls itself and steps out gingerly. It shuffles as quickly as it can into the bushes. Several of the boys have taken their clothes off to swim, and the girls join in too. It’s so hot.
Our world is on fire and the epidemic is blowing its waves. Angel is this masked and burned figure seen in the studio of a very dear friend in Orvieto, a few steps from the Duomo where the frescoes of Luca Signorelli paints bodies reborn from the worst plagues.