from an essay-in-progress

at the market

Follow your nose to the booth laden with loaves of every shape and size. Doughnuts, nobbly buns, pastries filled with prunes or poppyseeds. Bottles of moonshine, carefully labelled, with tiny glasses for tasting. There were tables piled high with plastic plates, old brown pottery crocks, headscarves, and tiny thong underpants. Bows and arrows, slingshots, chickens hung by their feet. I bought two small oil paintings in wooden frames; they showed the same view of the valley I saw as I walked to the pool each morning. How much, I asked, and the artist, Mr. Пенета, carefully wrote 200 UAH on an old envelope. $10, more or less. Using a voice app on his phone, he told me that he was an artist and he lived in Kosiv. You’re lucky, I replied. And I’m lucky too to have found your work.

On the bridge over the Rybnytsya River, a woman stopped me. She had four porcini mushrooms and a little jar of rosehips. I thought of my own jam made with Rosa canina hips, each one emptied of its coarse seeds, then boiled with sugar and lemon slices. No, I gestured, no, but beautiful mushrooms! Pizza? And that was a word she knew.

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