Friday, 20 December 2013

The Centaur

Scattered birds of prey are hovering in the steely light of the morning mainly to keep fit and stay warm as there is nothing left to prey on. The critters are in their lairs and the small birds fly under less severe skies. Oligor appears on the crest of the hill with his grey sheepskin busby. He wears a large jumper over his vest and a quilted jacket on top of his jumper. The lower part of his body is naked and the wind passes through his legs, or to be more precise his paws, and ruffles his tail feathers. His figure vaguely evokes ancient friezes when seen against the background of the hills. Oligor looks around him in that cold light and descends to the valley down the steep, stony paths with loud crashing footsteps . His dual nature of herbivore and carnivore detests this season:  in these parts, from November to January, one doesn’t find anything else to eat but chestnuts and apples and a diet consisting only of apples ends up inducing a kind of dysentery accompanied by hallucinations. As a desperate last resort he could try to eat the leaves off the trees but then almost all the perennials have bitter leaves.

A centaur is very much exposed to the cold. In other winters he tried to wear a cape when out for a stroll but his belly remained uncovered, that is either his stomach or his chest, because it is not clear where one begins and the other ends. His back is more adaptable to open-air life- it can stay under the rain all day without any inconvenience; but it is his front which suffers. Unable to button-up his jacket all the way down he tried to slip in a type of skirt made of Tartan wool under his large jumper, but he simply felt ridiculous with that type of apron on- it did not feel very masculine, so he had to take it off again. It’s not as though he frequents other centaurs- it is not a very sociable race and besides centaurs are more or less extinct. Yet for Olgar decorum is a value all of its own and a centaur with an apron is simply indecorous. Much more becoming would be a nice coypu cloak whose length reaches his tail, but this would not resolve the problem of the lower part of his chest, not to mention the disagreeable draught that forms behind in the cavern of his back. To tell the truth Oligor has never seen another centaur so he does not know how they are dressed during the winter. He hastily gathers the final shrivelled apples from the bare branches and returns to his stable.

In the stable he has everything he needs to paint: he is preparing for an exhibition. He has abandoned abstract art and is now dedicating himself to still lifes of a revealingly dream-like character. Since he is always dreaming of food to eat, his still lifes more often than not represent large stacks of hay and barley, or smoked herrings which are a particular favourite, or small sugar cubes and other similar delicacies. He is presently completing a large allegorical picture which occupies almost half of the stable. It represents a large plane fodder-trough lined with fir, decorated on the exterior with large silver coins and with a pyramid of cream bignes generously covered with honey and heaps of medical herbs placed all around. Above the fodder-trough flutters a heraldic or mythic beast with the body of a predator and the head of a reptile; behind one of the doors a horse ventures in a rather threatening manner. The horses of Oligor have something monstrous about them.

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