He pushes open a wooden door, parts a curtain of dark velvet, and enters Café Prowincja. All the candles blink. Faces of hot wax look up to see a well-sugared hat and coat blown in by the wind. The outside walls are on the inside. The bricks are made of chocolate and cinnamon, the plaster of vanilla. The gingerbread staircase goes nowhere in particular. Or to a life of pictures, pencils, clocks, souls. Because – look! – people are reading! People are drawing! And the clocks? Yes there is a collection of Sława alarm clocks on every shelf, each one stopped, because time here is marked only by the banging of the coffee scoop.
Joseph knows he must stay awake and watch. He is entranced by dark eyes over the rim of a white cup. By the yellow glow emanating from the pages of a book. And by the stillness of the body behind the book, for reading doubles the silence a body carries within.
© J.A.Hopkin, Winter Under Water (Picador)