FROM (ha)

a Cabaret

By David Turkel

With Performances by Elena Passarello

Who you Know
Mushroom Season

From Fall 2018

I. Eva Braun Rides a Train

 On the train there was a man with a hair-lip
 Outside to my left a stone wall was running the length of the     window 
 For what seemed an impossibly long time
 How many stones must have been in it?
 It was a mild day
 A little overcast
 The man with the hair-lip was writing in a small leather-bound book
 In a tight very careful script
 And occasionally he would pause to lick the tip of his pencil
 Why do people do this I don’t know
 I’ve never found it necessary to lick the tip of a pencil
 He glanced out the window and I wondered if he was writing a poem
 There’s not anything normal about this
 I mean these thoughts for me 
 Outside the stone wall kept going and going
 It was like we were going in a circle
 And the man with the hair-lip I felt for a second must be thinking this too
 That’s when a stand of trees just beyond the wall came into our view
 Trees black with leaves
 Darkening our window for a second
 And in that second I was suddenly aware
 The man could see me there in the reflection
 Staring not out the window
 But at him
 I looked down too quickly
 And I felt my face flush
 And suddenly a host of things were there in the train with us
 A whole host of things
 Visible only to me
 I was caught at a store with a fistful of candy
 When I was a girl
 The store owner held me tight by the wrist
 Until I opened my hand
 He looked at me like I was perhaps the worst person who had ever lived
 And also like he wanted me to say something
 Something that would I don’t know
 Release him somehow
 From what I don’t know
 He made me think for a second
 That stealing candy was the worst thing anyone had ever done 
 My mother was there 
 At the front of the store by the window 
 Because of the light
 The natural light that’s so important to see true color
 And she was holding a skein of yellow organza
 Standing there with the store owner’s wife
 Who was taking a corner
 And the two of them appeared to be catching the sunlight
 The way fishermen would catch fish
 Using a net
 They were all there in the train 
 Because of the heat rising to my face
 The heat of getting caught at something
 I looked up and the man had returned to his writing
 And that’s when I noticed it
 It wasn’t until then that I saw 
 He had a hair-lip
 Before that it had seemed like a shadow
 And when he turned to the window
 I remember thinking that there was something about him like a bird
 Because his hair-lip had given him a hawk’s expression
 As if he would take flight straight through the window
 And into those dark trees that were now far behind us
 Though the wall outside the window kept going and going
 It was made of light colored stones
 Some almost white
 The things men do
 I remember thinking
 And I wondered if perhaps that was why I thought he’d been writing poetry?
 Because I’d noticed something amiss
 Something I couldn’t place
 I say he had a hair-lip
 But I want to be clear
 I don’t think I’ve ever seen a mouth so sensual
 On a man 
 On a woman it’s not so strange
 She wears lipstick they say to make you picture the insides of her
 His lip worked this way in its defect
 The effect of it was to draw me into his mouth
 I tried to picture his face without it
 It’s rare that I would ever stare at a stranger like this
 What am I doing?
 What am I doing?
 I put my hands in my lap and stared down into them
 Like I was pouring something
 A spirit of some kind
 Out of my face and into my open palms
 Watching it pool there invisibly 
 But still viscous somehow
 Thick as time
 Instantly there were babies crying and being shushed
 The clanking and creaking train noise beneath us
 A dozen whispered conversations
 The sounds of a train
 A train I was on
 There was nothing peculiar about any of this
 Except that these sounds had not been there a moment ago
 And I hadn’t noticed their absence
 Have you ever thought you were cracking up?
 Have you ever thought I have to remind myself to breathe now
 I can’t forget to breathe whatever I do
 I was holding this spirit in the palms of my hands in my lap
 Like it was the antidote for a poison I had swallowed
 But it was very heavy or I was too weak already from the poison to lift it to my lips
 Or like I was holding my own eyes that had fallen out of my face
 And I needed to carry them carefully to a doctor
 Only it wasn’t a doctor I needed 
 It was him I knew that
 The only one that could put my eyes back in
 And I knew several other things in quick succession 
 I knew when I raised my head there wouldn’t be anyone there in front of me
 And in spite of the fact that I knew this 
 I knew that I would scream at the empty seat just the same
 I knew exactly how it would sound though I’d never heard that sound before
 The sound of my own screams
 I knew that the wall outside the window was gone
 Though it was night now 
 Had been night for a while yes 
 And I wouldn’t be able to see anything out there when I looked
 I could tell we had travelled beyond it 
 Were cut free now
 Worst of all
 I knew what he had been writing 
 There in his book
 Knew it as if it were written in flames
 In the cave of my own memories 
 Feeding on them like anthracite
 Not a poem 
 Unless you think that a poem is a kind of curse? 
 Unless you think the soul of Man
 A kind of poetry?



 V. Eva Braun Sings a Cabaret Number

 It’s not
 It never was
 The little things
 O no
 It’s all who you know
 It’s all who you know
 Don’t get me wrong
 Looks count for something
 It stings 
 When they go
 It’s all who you know
 It’s all who you know
 That’s all it is
 That’s showbiz
 It’s who says “Hello”
 It’s all who you know
 The way to the banks
 Of the Red Sea
 Moses told the Pharaoh
 It’s all who you know
 It’s all who you know
 It’s all—

 Thank you darlings
 Thank you
 I’ll be here all week…



 VIII. Eva Braun, Dream Analyst

 Please darling
 Don’t tell me your dreams
 There’s nothing worse
 But your nightmares?
 Now those I’ll take
 For years I dreamed of a certain room
 At the end of a long hall
 With a floor and walls of unpainted plywood
 A small wooden table and chairs
 And a low bed with a simple metal frame
 The kind you’d find in rows in an orphanage
 A room of crimes
 What was a little girl doing 
 With such a place as this 
 Crouching in her mind?



 IX. Wild Nights at the Cabaret Continue

 You’ve got me dead to rights!
 I should have killed the lights
 Drawn the blinds
 Worn a mask
 I’ve no alibi since you ask
 It was my favorite knife!
 I must admit it’s queer
 I wear it on my thigh
 Way up here
 How did it wind up there? 
 Suspicious minds abound…
 Same as everywhere
 In every two-bit town
 The streets that I go down
 The whispers and the stares
 (a girl can’t get a break!)
 O I confess:
 I took the cake!
 I took the cake!
 For Heaven’s sake
 I took it right off of your plate!
 It tasted great!
 The cake you baked
 I ate it naked 
 And dropped crumbs on my milkshake
 It was a dream for me
 O it was heavenly!
 I’m so excited 
 And delighted by my crime 
 But what’s obscene to me
 Is how you brazenly
 Act so shocked and offended every time
 I’ll make it simple
 For your sake:
 You make them & I take them
 Takes the 
 CAKE!XXII. Eva Braun Gets Creative

 One day for fun
 After I had taken my bath
 I sat on the rim of the tub 
 With a razor
 I had just purchased a new swimsuit
 A two piece!
 And the devil took my hand
 As I contoured Bavaria
 (I call her)
 Can you tell where this is going?
 A few careful strokes
 A little shoe polish
 And Viola! 
 O you should have seen Woolfie’s face!
 And you would have too you know?
 For there
 Beneath my skirt
 Was his mustache!



 XXIII. Mushroom Season

 O my head today!
 I feel like I have slept for a thousand years
 This morning I locked myself out of the house
 Can you believe?
 Such a dingbat!
 And I couldn’t get anyone to let me back in
 I was naked you know
 What was I thinking?
 I circled the house looking into every window
 Where had they all gone?
 Servants are like cats
 Sometimes I think they have another life
 A car was coming up the drive
 And I escaped to the woods
 It’s mushroom season here 
 It gives the world such a flavor
 The Dark Life
 All the leaves coming down
 And they have never been so beautiful
 The creatures all preparing for the change
 My first kiss was in mushroom season
 She was a friend
 We were only playing
 Until we weren’t
 And the air was different there 
 Closer to the ground 
 It was thick 
 Full of the Dark Life
 Insects hidden beneath the wet leaves
 Moss on the bark
 And the mushrooms 
 Like the mark of Death itself
 Or like its laughter bursting
 Fully formed
 Suddenly everywhere
 What was it like to touch tongues?
 I think that was the question we asked that day
 Once the dog’s tongue got into my mouth
 And I thought it tingled with a dull electricity
 But hers
 My friend’s 
 Was just soft
 Softer than mine I think
 This is the way grownups kiss I told her
 And she didn’t believe me
 It wasn’t like it is now
 You didn’t see such displays in the movies
 Or anywhere else for that matter
 But once after the first war
 A boy
 A man I suppose he would have been then
 Fresh from the front
 Walked up our street in his uniform
 With such determination 
 It was impossible to take your eyes off him
 And the girl who flung herself from her house
 Into his arms 
 Opened her whole mouth to him
 It was a scandal!
 Her father had to throw a pot 
 The way you would to break up a cat fight
 But for me the secret was out
 The flush of love starts here in the mouth
 I’ll show you I told my her You be the girl…
 Now in mushroom season I think of her
 My first seduction!
 There was something there you know
 The change in our breath
 The way it became almost milky
 Redoubled somehow
 As churned milk begins to thicken
 That felt echoed by the forest
 Thick with the Dark Life
 As if Death were caressing the earth
 Probing her with its tongue
 Pulling forth the thickened milk of her breath
 We sank into the leaves
 And I said Feel
 And I took her hands
 And placed one on my chest
 And the other over her own heart
 They were pounding you know?
 In exactly the same rhythm 
 It was I thought our rhythm
 But also the rhythm of the forest 
 Of mushroom season and of the Dark Life
 As if it were pulsing through us
 Sweeping us up
 And it did too you know
 It swept us up and it blew us
 Not together
 But away
 But today I thought there was a remnant 
 There in the forest still
 For the Greeks all memory is in the sky
 Their heroes flung into outer space to become constellations
 But for me the earth remembers her dead 
 In mushroom season
 In their clusters the stories are told
 Was it my nakedness brought this sudden understanding?
 That I was of the forest 
 And the forest within me?
 Are our bodies like another eyeball 
 That our clothing only blinds? 
 Perhaps we all need to be walking naked 
 Through the woods
 So that we can see
 Truly see
 Who we are
 What it means to be of the earth?
 Can you imagine Woolfie naked in the forest? 
 But perhaps that’s something I could do for him? 
 In the beginning 
 So says the Bible 
 There was a naked man and woman 
 Adam and Eve 
 Adolf and Eva 
 It’s not lost on me you know? 
 Sometimes the cards are dealt upside down  
 We were born in the light 
 And the Lord said Let there be darkness 
 And it’s up to us now to get back to the garden 
 Forget all we’ve learned 
 Only it’s mushroom season 
 And the earth will not forget her dead