Do you remember the feeling of falling from a vacuum while you were flying
carefree on a trip?
The momentary loss of safety ?
Now that the world is slipping into fog , I beg you to
come and have a cup of tea with me , think while reading poetry , maybe even cuddle mentally .
small chance that we can banish fear.
February was always on my mind as a man on crutches.
Not much of a future ahead of him.
A victim of war.
I embrace March with my well-hidden, camouflaged, covered expectations.
I dare not express them.
Because I’m afraid. I’m afraid of making a mistake, of being judged, of being attacked, of offending someone through my ignorance.
Spring is around the next bend.
But in these times my friends I could not whistle… indifferently.
Don’t worry I won’t make political analyses.
I’m not an internationalist, nor a journalist.
Nor of course am I interested in creating the conditions for another Facebook or Twitter type battle.
I think it is worth having this discussion in a place of peace and tranquillity.
I am getting on my lovely bike.
I put on my helmet.
How lucky it’s not a military one…
I wonder where to meet you so we can talk with an open heart.
Without the weight of war on our heads. A place where you can feel your grandmother’s arms around you.
Like when you were a child and you visited her and wanted to stay with her forever.
I leave the center which is slowly becoming bustling and head northwest, to the alternative neighborhood of Wiedikon.
Yes, I have the perfect place for our date.
I send you the map with the location now and meet you there in 15 minutes. Ok?
As soon as you pull back the Bordeaux velvet curtains of the entrance, you feel completely at home.
Old Swiss wooden tables. Carved chairs. Vases with fresh flowers. Romantic wallpapers. Colored lampshades and unturned salt and pepper shakers in porcelain bird shapes.
The charming Geraldine Gschwend is the mother and inspirer of the space.
I talk with her at the big table.
We exchange smiles and our ages.
“If only someone had taught us when we were “25” not to worry about the passage of time, about the musts and limits that “maturity” sets .”
Successful revolutions have always come after great mistakes, many lessons learned, and unwavering determination. Who has all that at 20 or 27?
She describes how it all started, one night when she came home tired from the bar where she worked.
She tells me about the dream, which became an idea, which was measured into a plan and with a lot of hard work into reality. Ten years of stage work and non-stop effort to improve.
Favorite place for lunch on weekdays or brunch on weekends. I find the vegan porridge with himbeerkompott and maple syrup brilliant. But when I have done the long half marathon distances I always order the “normal porridge”. A big bowl of real guilt free enjoyment.
I look at the customers. Some of them are fanatics, present every day. The cook is cooking something delicious in the kitchen and the smell overwhelms our noses. Two friends talk happily on the art deco sofa in the corner and the (maybe two months old) baby lying next to them waves her arms as if she wants to catch the sky. The bar lovers read in their newspaper the news about the war in Ukraine and order a second coffee. A loving couple in colored caps kisses endlessly over delicious pancakes.
Annabelle, Catarina, Sabrina, and Ioannis, serve people with a sense of care. The dynamism of a competent team permeates the atmosphere. The politeness is spontaneous.
As I ask for permission from a happy family to photograph them, a third-wave cafe in Ukraine comes to mind that I wanted to visit when I would have the chance. The well known for its quality in the city of Melitopol: M-KOΦΕ. I think of the owners who opened it with joy a few years ago. With how many hopes and how many dreams they took this risk. Only PEACE can ensure you this wonderful feeling of birth, creation, and evolution. With my camera in hand, I take some shots of the happy children while they eat their breakfast, and a worry troubles my mind.
Where are these people, staff, partners, suppliers now? In which shelter or in which neighboring country will they have protected their lives. I hurriedly put the camera down, I thank with glee the family and I look for the Ukrainian M-KOΦΕ’s Instagram account. Last post 23 February. Portraits of two girls and a man: Anechka, Elya, and Nikita. They are the two baristas and the co-founder. A few photos further down, some frequent customers are doing acrobatic jokes with cups and their bodies sitting casually in the sun. Only a few days ago.
I desperately turn off my phone and step out onto the small terrace of Dihei. The sun bathes the quiet Zurlindenstrasse and I try to imitate, an acrobatic trick with a cup that I saw just now.
Growing up in a small state that suffered for centuries from the occupations of larger and more powerful states, I can hear the beating hearts of every Ukrainian citizen, refugee, and victim of this humiliating war. Born in a state famous for its ancient history and glory … whose omnipotence and absolute sense of sovereignty had taken it to the borders of India … I cannot help but think that times change very easily. The laurel wreaths of victory turn to shackles and chains. Empires fall disastrously and arrogance is almost always punished. This I remember from the ancient Greek tragedies.
I return to my table.
The waiters run to catch up on some orders.
The kitchen guys ring the alarm bell to let them know that the food is ready.
Zürich, outside the window, is alive and breathing.
I start to write you a letter.
My dear birds...
…Peace is a precious gift.
It is not a given and we must always fight for it even when we are on the safe side.
The Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert was born in Lwow, ( Lviv ) now part of Ukraine. As a teenager, he took part in the resistance against Nazism.
He studied law, economics, and philosophy at the Universities of Warsaw and Krakow. He wrote theatre and poetry.
Zbigniew Herbert is recognized as one of the great Polish poets of the 20th century, and he gained an international reputation upon the publication of his works in English.
I present to you ….his short poem :
IN THE CITY
In the borderland city, I’ll never see again
there’s a winged stone light and immense
a winged stone struck by lighting „-
in the faraway city, I’ll never see again
There’s water that’s heavy and nourishes
he who gives you a drink of the water
says —someday I’ll return to this place
in my city which doesn’t exist on any map
of the world, there’s bread giving lifelong
Nourishment black as an exile’s fate—as
stone water bread towers standing at dawn
Stay Safe & Warm Little Birds.