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Anna Pyrohanych
Poet

 


Tiny Castle looms —
Puppets, both dwarf and giant
Open Hand gives life!

I live in Auburn, but I made it a point to check out Open Hand Theater, and I fell in love with the people over there and what they do. People don't realize it, but puppetry, internationally, is not a childish thing. All over the world, puppetry is considered legitimate theater.

Being an immigrant -- I'm Ukrainian -- I grew up with Baba Yaga and fables and folklore and Grimm's fairy tales. And with puppets dwarf and giant, Open Hand gives life to this fantasy, these stories, in this little castle right here in Syracuse.

Their symbol is the open hand. It's like an invitation: Come into this world, and this castle (International Mask and Puppet Museum), and we will give life to all these fantasies, fables, stories. These masks, we animate them; these puppets sitting on our shelves, we give them life. Open Hand gives life!

Tigers caged in glass
Stare back in equal wonder
Whose gaze is captive?

I’m a member of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo all the time, and I am fascinated by the Siberian tigers. I think they’re the most beautiful creatures. You can’t help but look at that face. It’s soft and serene, and yet you know it’s powerful and deadly at the same time.

It’s like everything in life. Everything has a façade. You have to see and appreciate its beauty, but you have to be aware that there’s always danger involved.

When I’m looking through that glass at the tiger, I can almost touch him. The only thing separating us is this thin glass panel. I’m admiring his strength and beauty, the muscular features, and the intensity in the eyes. And he’s looking straight back at me the same way. It’s like we can’t take our eyes off each other.

Hats glow like halos —
Colorful Procession climbs
Stairway to heaven.

When I first saw the illustration, I thought “Oh my God, that’s a difficult one. What can you think of?” I put it aside and told myself not to bother with it. Then I looked at it again, and I had a flashback to my childhood.
When I was in school, we’d be in Easter processions—Easter is a very big event in my Ukrainian culture—and all the women had their brand new hats. They couldn’t wait to wear them on Easter Sunday, so I thought of that and all the women on their way to church.

Pretty much every church I know has a stairway in the front, and I’ve always thought that the stairway up to church was a “stairway to heaven” where parish “saints” marched in. It all just came to me at once in that second look.

 

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