Posts by Anna Hyde

Translation Tuesday: “I’m Scared of Those Dots” by Mirka Szychowiak

Somebody said that the healthiest ones die most easily.

Today’s Translation Tuesday comes from the Polish writer Mirka Szychowiak. “I’m Scared of Those Dots” is a haunting ellipsis of a story, concealing just as much as it reveals.

I came earlier today, let’s spend as much time together as we can, let’s enjoy each other’s company, stock up on it. As usual, we won’t be able to answer the same questions, but they will be asked nonetheless.

Zbyszek, who pushed you out of that dirty train? Your bloody blonde mop on the tracks, it still hurts. Who did it to us? How are you, Basia, do tell. What’s up? You were the fastest among us, made us so proud. Somebody said that the healthiest ones die most easily. You didn’t want to be an exception, did you? You passed away at a faster pace than when you broke the 100-metre record. Rysiu, your last letter made us angry. You better all come, you wrote. Your life with us was filled with laughter, but you were alone when you shot yourself for some strange girl. We were furious, but almost all of us did come. Almost, because Bolek had left by then, as was his custom, quietly. He fell over and that was it. Two hours after his death, he became a father. Both prematurely. Youth gave us no guarantees, we understood it early on and only Adam didn’t get it in time—it was the youth, which tore his heart apart, like a bullet. It was so literal it stripped him of all romanticism. It poured out of him, ripped him inside and that was it. Later it was Bożenka and Janusz. The two of them and the carbon monoxide from the stove. A potted fern—a nameday present—withered and then somebody called to say that there were less of us yet again.


Translation Tuesday: On the River Boży Stok by Wioletta Greg

I listened to apocryphal tales, to stories about ghosts, about saints, ghouls and vagabonds coming from the other side of the hill.

“In the beginning there was vast darkness./ Gardens of house mites blossomed within./ A river of light flew through these gardens./ Monsters of hay shifted.// In the beginning there was dense silence/ like inside poppy heads.” [1]

That’s how I imagined my beginnings in the stone house by the pond in Hektary in the village of Rzeniszów upon Boży Stok in the Jurassic Highlands, where I was born in February of nineteen seventy four, when the ice covered nearby ponds and cloth nappies froze stiff in the hall and in the attic. My Grandfather, Władysław Lubasparticipant of the September Campaign, marksman of the 74th Infantry Regiment, stalag prisonerwas given three hectares of land during the Land Reform after the war. That was where he built a house of stone with brick corners, the house which looked a bit like a Polish country house. The right side of itthe dining room and two other rooms divided by a spacious hallwas the residential part, while the left side, with a separate entrance and a small window, was a barn. You could say that we lived together with the animals. In early Spring the rooms were filled with the smell of chopped yarrow for turkeys maturing in a cage under the table. A brooding duck sat under the ladder to the attic. Chickens, rabbits, dogs and cats wandered around the house. Up until the 1980s we used domestic appliances made by Grandfather. These were, amongst others: churns, pastry boards, rolling pins, wooden mixing bowls, pails held together by metal bands, stools and troughs. And since my Father’s hobby was taxidermy, there were stuffed martens, magpies and buzzards on the walls, while a stuffed rabbit in formal wear (in a top hat and with a cane) sat on a birch stump. There were beehives in the meadow by the apple trees. READ MORE…