Belarusians have taken the leap, now there is no going back.
The goon squads won’t be able to beat the entire population into submission. What is inspiring to me, as someone who has been there and has gotten to know people, is how their typical qualities of modesty, stoicism, lack of extravagance, and almost preternatural calm is translating into fearlessness and even peaceful heroism in the face of brutality. Well, of course they are afraid, but they are acting anyway, the definition of courage. The same traits that have seen them through 26 years of dictatorship are making them an implacable force to be reckoned with.
Praying they land on their feet. #BelarusSolidarity
This was the cover image of my book The Waiting Room — Photographs from Belarus. Not because it was the best photo I took. I just thought, for me at least, it conjured a certain quiet symbolism, if she is Belarusians and the room is Belarus: the room somewhat spartan, but not dirty or derelict; her modest traditional attire and the patience and introspective reserve in her body language; the light just beyond the exit, which is blocked (but only partially), and she isn’t making any kind of move in that direction anyway. And yeah, she’s waiting in a room…
It’s not even a very good photo.
But as our five-day Serbia road trip neared its end, my friends and I had decided to pull over one more time when we saw her. This was one of my last frames before we noticed a small group of soldiers approaching us from the line of trees.
“What are you photographing?”
“What does it look like we’re photographing?” my friend replied.
“There’s an army base over there.”
“What army base, I just see trees.”
“It’s beyond the trees.”
“Well, I don’t see it.”
“You’ll have to explain that to our commander, come…
(At the Moment of Leaving Earth Forever)
Come on rise up
Rise and disguise the pain
Come on feel the wind again
Soak your eyes
Pull the thorns
Hold your heartbeat in your hands
Too late now we’re torn apart
Too late we’ve been joined apart
Lay down and over the moon
Lay down and make right with you
Today gives way to the night
From today we have months of night
The girl had actually agreed to go out on the river with him.
He tried to row with strength and certainty
and not say foolish things.
She loved this part of the city center,
with the lights from shore
she could squint and imagine she was in Paris.
In the growing dusk, she couldn’t quite see the young man’s face,
which by now was strained and anxious.
He silently seethed that his little brother tagged along
at such an important moment.
She gazed past them to her mother and grandmother,
who were busy chattering
at the old picnic tables by the riverbank.
An old friend once asked me to recount the most strange or even supernatural thing I’ve experienced first-hand.
On a late 1970s summer night, not yet in high school, I went with my older brother and a few friends to a midnight movie at the old Jenifer Cinema, one of many theaters that don’t exist anymore in Washington DC.
Around 2am, walking home joking and chatting along a quiet suburban street, our little group fell silent when we saw a woman in maybe her 30s or 40s, with unkempt hair and wearing a nightgown, walking very slowly a block ahead…
Photos and text by Bill Crandall
Driving home one warm night through Columbia Heights with the windows down, suddenly the wind carried a distinct aroma I knew very well: the slightly sweet smell of burning coal — specifically, the soft brown lignite that fuels Czech central heating systems. Anyone who’s spent time over there knows it well. Not a typical DC smell at all. But there it was.
According to Japan’s Shinto religion, spirits (kami) can inhabit natural objects such as trees and rocks. While kami are generally revered, their nature is somewhat ambiguous — they can be good or bad. In the vicinity of a tree in a little pocket park near my house, there have been a few car accidents in past years. A police chase ended badly in that spot, with the perp’s car ending up practically in my neighbor’s front yard.
In his declining years, my father had a strange incident driving past the tree at night after leaving our place. He was shaken…
photographer, teacher, musician, writer