The Centaur- Juan Rodolfo Wilcock


Juan Rodolfo Wilcock’s Business Card

In the steely light of the morning scattered birds of prey are hovering mainly in order to keep fit and stay warm since 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: from November to January in these parts one doesn’t find anything else to eat but chestnuts and apples and a diet consisting solely of apples ends up inducing in him a kind of dissentry accompanied by hallucinations. As a desparate last resort he could try to eat the leaves off the trees but then almost all the perennials have bitter leaves.

A centaur is too 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 as though there were nothing to it; 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 wasn’t very masculine, so he had to take it off again. It’s not as though he frequents other centaurs, it’s not a very sociable race and besides it’s 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 wouldn’t 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, he doesn’t 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 he particularly likes, 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.

About afoniya

I am a translator, language teacher, independent film scholar who is interested in many aspects of culture. I have my own blog on Russian and Soviet cinema at and I have also written for journals such as Film Philosophy and Bright Lights as well as Ribbed magazine. Outside of film my interest runs to language, politics, literature and my world is centred around the Meditteranean, Russia, Southern Ukraine as well as the UK.

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