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borowski 41 Tadeusz Borowski (Addison Bross, trans.) Farting with Maria {Editor's Note: Polish author Tadeusz Borowski was born in Zhitomir in 1922; he committed suicide in Warsaw in 195 1 . During World War II he studied Polish literature in Warsaw's underground university, and publishedclandestinely his first collection ofpoetry. In 1943 Borowski was arrested; he spent the remainder ofthe war in Auschwitz and Dachau. In the postwaryears, as his ideological orientation shifted from Catholic nationalism to Marxism, his literary output shifted from poetry to fiction and journalism. The basic situation his fiction represents and addresses is the scandal of dailiness in the face of mass oppression and extermination. "Parting with Maria," previously unpublished in English, is the title story ofhis second and final fiction collection, Pozegnanie? Mariq (1948). An English translation of stories selected from both this and Borowski's first collection Kamienny swial (1948 {Stone HfcrW}, was published in 1967, under the title This Whyfor the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen. } Beyond the table, the telephone, the pile of ledgers—a window and door. In the door two black panes gleaming with night. Finally the sky, the window's background, covered with swelling clouds blown to the bottom of the glass, northward, past the walls ofthe burned house. The burned house, still blackening, stood across the street from a small gate in the iron fence topped by shiny barbed wire, along which the violet glow ofa street lamp slid like vibrations on a string. Offto the right a stiff, leafless tree was scratched pathetically on the stormy sky with milk clumps of train smoke caught in its branches. Loaded freight cars rattled past, bound for the front. Maria looked up from her book. A thin shadow hung on her forehead and eyes. She put her hands over the lamp that stood among empty bottles, plates with unfinished salad, heavy-bottomed crimson tumblers blue at the base. The light shooting off the edges of objects or soaking into the blue smoke as into a rug, splashing on the brittle glass rims, glimmering inside the tumblers—gold leaves in a wind—now hid inside her hands. They made a rosy dome over the light, which barely squeezed through the cracks between her fingers. The dim anteroom filled with cozy dark, closed in toward her hands and grew small as a shell. "Look—there's no edge between the light and the dark," Maria whispered. "The dark is a tide. It comes up to our feet and cuts us off from the world. There's just you and me." I leaned toward her mouth, watching the small folds in its corners. "Poems are throbbing in you like sap in a tree." I shook my head, ringing from a few drinks. "Better watch out. The world has an axe for you." Maria laughed, her tongue dark between her teeth. She tightened her fingers over the lamp. The gleam in her eyes wavered and left. "I can't take poetry—it's all about hearing shapes and touching sounds." She 42 the minnesota review leaned over the sofe arm. Her red sweater turned purple in the dark, stayed red only where the light showed its folds. "But I guess in poems you can say what people are really like." I tapped my tumbler—a brittle sound. "I don't know, Maria. But I think poems are to help people love. It's the same with religion. That's the test ofboth of them." "Yes, for sure—love," said Maria, looking down. Beyond the window, beyond the burned house, on the broad street around the square, trolleys screeched. Electricity flashed in the purple sky, splashing through the dark like spurts of a welder's torch, washing house, street and gate with moonlight, brushing the black panes, dying without sound. A moment later the high, thin song ofthe trolley rails also stopped. Behind the door in the next room they turned on the phonograph again, and a melody, weak as if played on a comb, merged with the constant scrape of feet and girls' shrill laughter. "You know, Maria, there's another world outside of us." I smiled at her and got up from the sofe...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 41-60
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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