Book//mark - Kassandra and the Wolf | Margarita Karapanou (1976)

Margarita Karapanou, Kassandra and the Wolf, 1976  cover: Seymour Chwast

Mother 

 “I was born at dusk, hour of the wolf, July, under the sign of Cancer. When they brought me to her, she turned her face to the wall.” 

 “One day, my Mother, Kassandra, brought me a lovely doll as a present. She was big, and she had yellow strings instead of hair. 
I put her to sleep in her box, but first I cut off her legs and arms so she’d fit. Later, I cut her head off too, so she wouldn’t be so heavy. Now I love her very much.” 

 “I’m in my room. Since yesterday, it’s been winter. I’ve arranged my dolls in line on the bed, opened their legs, and lifted their frocks. I’m making them give birth. I’m using my marbles—the shiny ones—a present from Peter. The marbles drop, and roll on the carpet. After they’ve turned into children, I put them in my basket. It’s the birth basket. It’s very shiny, with bits of mirror inside, 1 gold penknife, and millions of marbles—red ones, yellow ones, green ones—fire. 
I want to put marbles in my dolls’ bellies so I prick them all with a needle. They sigh, as straw falls on the carpet, and look pleased. I close their legs, cover them up, and run off to see the rain.”


The Gentleman

 “Then, when the Gentleman takes you to be his Lady, when he puts on his pajamas and you put on your nightgown, and he stands upright and naked and then on top of you, don’t ever show you like it. Just imagine that you’re in the parlor, cross-stitching swans and peacocks. If you like it so much you can’t stop yourself, pretend you’ve got stomach cramps. because if you were to moan, the Gentleman would divorce you and, with the name you have and the position you hold, that would be terrible."

 "learn the secrets under the sheets, open your legs and let the little stars and hurricanes into your belly”


The Birdman 

 "The Birdman lived on a high mountain and loved the Fishwoman very much. But they could never manage to meet each other, you see, because he couldn’t get in the water and she couldn’t fly. That’s why the Bird always flew over the sea, and the Fish always followed in the waves, until, finally, the Bird covered it and became its Shadow. Before that none of us had a Shadow. We walked about quite plain and we were cold too. But from that time on, the Shadow was born, and now we all have one to keep us company."


Words 

 “I chewed words, so heavy they turned to pebbles in my belly”

 “I’ve learned to speak, answer, and think in syllables.
 -Then why are you crying? 
 It’s the syllables. It hurts when I cut the words in two.” 

 ” said I, “have quite made up my mind. I want to live with plasticine and tracings. I don’t want to learn reading and writing. Fact is, I want to be plasticine. I’ll take all my bones out and I’ll knead myself. 

 “One morning, I couldn’t hear. I quarreled with sounds. I turned into a table. I turned transparent. 
 It rained from the sky, and the raindrops turned to tears on my cheeks. I chewed words, so heavy I couldn’t lift them, turned to pebbles in my belly. I changed shapes constantly. (Dumb) words came out of my mouth, and the air around me tore them in pieces. 
 Letters turned to reptiles.” 

 "At night, forgotten words tried to reach me. I listened with my skin. Words tore my skin off, crept inside me, and nestled down. I was a mass of wounds. When I opened my mouth in front of the mirror, beasts lay asleep in my throat; they’d made it their home."


Margarita Karapanou, Kassandra and the Wolf, 1974 
 tr. N. C. Germanacos 1976

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