Thursday, 28 February 2013

All the lights and radios

Sometimes it seems to me that even my physical sensibilities have coagulated and stiffened within me like resin. In contrast to years gone by, when I observed the world with wide-open, astonished eys, and walked along every street alert, like a young man on a parapet, I can now push through the liveliest crowd with total indifference and rub against hot female bodies without the slightest emotion, even though the girls may try to seduce me with the bareness of their knees and their oiled, intricately coiffed hair. Through half-open eyes I see with satisfaction that once again a gust of the cosmic gale has blown the crowd into the air, all the way up to the treetops, sucked the human bodies into a huge whirlpool, twisted their lips open in terror, mingled the children's rosy cheeks with the hairy chests of men, entwined the clenched fists with strips of women's dresses, thrown snow-white thighs on top, like foam, with hats and fragments of heads tangled in hair-like seaweed peeping from below. And I see that this wierd snarl, this gigantic stew concocted out of the human crowd, flows along the street, down the gutter, and seeps into space with a loud gurgle, like water into a sewer...

When, after a day of scorching heat, of dust and petrol fumes, a refreshing dusk falls at last, transforming the tubercular ruins into a deceptively innocent stage set fading against a darkening sky, I walk under the newly erected street lights back to my apartment which smells of fresh paint and which I bought from an agent for an exorbitant sum, not registered with any rent commission. I settle down by the window, rest my head on my palms and, lulled by the sound of the dishes which my wife is washing in the kitchen alcove, I stare at the windows of the house across the way, where the lights and the radios are being turned off one by one.

This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen
Tadeusz Borowski 1959

The crash

The wreckage lay there for seven months before it was removed. Of the pilot who came to grief that afternoon in late July nothing remained save a single glove, swamped in the ditch that smelled only of rotting canvas and the nests of mice.