A Midwinter Virtual Renga*

Winter on Vine St., Natalya Critchley, 2017.


Renée Szostek

Claudio Mendoza

Timothy Adès

Snow-covered branches

become bright, lacy patterns

against the gray sky.

Icy ferns trace my window

as temperatures go down

January cold

skiing in the Alps, or else

April, village slush

I stroll amidst the snow. An

early robin chirps of spring.

My boots are too wet

yet many miles to the pub.

Fly me to your nest

London winters are mild now

not like Michigan, I guess

Depressed by dreary

drifts of snow, I long for warmth,

of winter weary. 

Sunday roast, walk on the moor.

Cheer up, love, the Super Bowl 

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Mangled Hopes for Bridges

Mangled Hope for Bridges by Natalya Critchley, 2020.

Mangled Hopes for Bridges is the paintings show by Natalya Critchley, my wife, on the Venezuelan diaspora. This exhibition opens at the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center in the town of Vicksburg, Michigan, USA, on September 27th, 2020, as part of the event “Destination Venezuela: Culture Amidst Crises”. It expresses her pain and solidarity for this tragedy since in many ways we are very much part of it, part of the unstoppable and massive bleeding of the best of our country: its people.

The Simón Bolívar Bridge between the cities of San Antonio del Táchira in Venezuela and Cúcuta in Colombia has become the icon of this migration from savagery to civilization, a complicated toll Venezuelans must pay with the hope of finding subsistence and some prosperity on the other side.  I have crossed it several times, by myself and with my physics students on our way to some international conference or school. Not long ago it was more practical and cheaper to fly out of Cúcuta than from the Maiquetía Airport of Caracas. We took the overnight bus of Expresos Occidente to the city of San Cristóbal, and Mr. Clinton, the cab driver who knew all the tricks of the trade, would take us across the bridge. But soon we reached the point of no return, Venezuela laid waste, we could no longer pursue our professional goals at home. The international scientific family to which we belong helped us with projects and doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships difficult to turn down. 

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