30 April 2010

Babooshka!!!! YAAAYAAAA!

Memories of working at a Russian doll shop. 

All the faces - unblinking and dark-eyed, stare back from the glass shelves. The spotlights swathe the figures in a too-close warmth, the bodies swagger and huddle. Was this store always so red? Garish flashes of paint and lacquer form lips on dolls' faces, posies of flowers, lace; artistic flourish dissolves into a curl of opium smoke or the shaved linden wood discarded at artisans' feet. Firebirds cavort on aprons, horses with muscular necks curved like swans' snort and stamp on reflective black surfaces, glossy as frozen lakes. A Persian princess sips chai from a samovar. The Russian dolls clamour around like a red army, staring, unbreathing with their dark eyes.