from the editors

current issue

past issues



Follow UCityReview on Twitter



Mark Farrell

To the Babushka Lady

To the Babushka Lady

No film of your own.

Although you filmed.

Because there you are:

                                       in Dealey Plaza – Orville Nix caught you
with your camera rolling…
and Mark Bell, Marie Muchmore – they recorded you too.

And now anyone can just
go to YouTube – take a look at the Zapruder – it’s frame 277 that you appear
          – freeze it at Frame 285 –
And there you are the most clearly: behind a slightly-chubby man and his son:
                                                        lined right up with the President and First Lady…

There you are: The Babushka Lady – and you are filming…

Filming: You don’t know what?...(Or did you know?)

The shots ringing out – the people diving for cover – and you just kept filming amidst it all. All
that screaming and chaos.

But your film never surfaced. 

How…well…How mysterious.

Mysterious…and…lovely?…Okay, you were a little stocky, but society’s vision of the ideal
woman was different then.

I imagine you at one of those early-60s high-octane
parties (think: John Cheever short-story.)
Everyone getting stunned on the endless Manhattans, Martinis, Gins and Tonic …A guest,
and not just one, saying: ”That’s all right, I’ll mix it myself…” (and – whoa! –almost half
the bottle gone!) And you, Babushka Lady, cigarette in hand…Laughing at witty (and
not-so-witty) jokes – always the gracious host. 

A nice laugh?
Did you have a nice laugh? 
And a real Persian rug
on the floor of your living room?

And a kitschy porcelain piggy bank filled with coins from all around the world? Oh, did you
want to pick it up and shatter it when you got home that day – that is, after going across Elm
Street and up that grassy knoll. After what you’d just witnessed?  Did you come home and
start bawling and smashing everything in sight?      

Well, what did you see? What was on your film, and what happened to it? (Did you leave the
lens-cap on? Was that it? Or did you hand it over to some mobsters? Or some shady
secret-service agents?)

Were you trusting, Babushka Lady?

Or were you jaded?

Were you afraid?


Did you go back to your bedroom – with its wardrobe filled with scarves (your favourites pink
and lime-green) – and then just collapse on the bed and cry?

Or did you laugh…

Did you go on a crazy laughing jag…

Because there was also the scars (pink and pus-lime-green)
on your back
from S+M…

The real 1960s USA all covered up. Properly.

The reality no one wanted to be seen.

Was that it, Babushka Lady?


Return to list of poems

Mark Farrell is from Nova Scotia, Canada and has been living in the Czech Republic for over fifteen years. He teaches at Charles University in Prague. His work has appeared in many journals throughout the world – most recently in Stand Magazine (Leeds University, UK), Square (Cardiff, UK) and Muscle & Blood (Youngstown, Ohio). Selected future publications include: Pushing Out The Boat (Aberdeen, UK) and Fras (Dunning, UK).

Return to list of poems

copyright 2011 ucity review