Anna Zemánková (Czech, 1908–1986)
Outsider Artist

Miriam Sagan

Born in an eastern place that can be broken
And will be—where childhood
Fairies hang upside down in bell flowers
And soldiers
Tramp through in boots that speak another language
First one conqueror and then another
Taking the city with its old quarter of golems
Everyone has left but the young housewife
Who begins to embroider pillows and stuffed handbags.

In a place where the only beauty
Is the flowers of the public squares
She stitches on crumpled paper
Paints and crewels the page
These are the private flowers—
Very red—open throated blossoms
Extraterrestrial—beneath a sky of sputniks.

Can this, or anything else, be explained by its narrative?
Or by appearing to do two things at once
Such as sweep—which is a kind of separation
And hide behind a mask?
Appliqué a hat, a lampshade
Crochet a whole new story.

The room divider includes silk thread
A mysterious graph, red beads
Five hysterical flowers
Tied together in a knot—this must be madness—
And is untitled
Like everything else in this world
Where something was trying to eat us alive
Before we adorned it.


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