♠ Our Best and Brightest
A LIFE IN LITERATURE AND STUDIES IN AUSTRIA. Z ZAJĘĆ NA FILOLOGII ANGIELSKIEJ DO GRAZ
Most people are nosy beings by nature. They feast upon the experiences of others, hungrily devouring their fears, desires, characteristic behaviors. We enjoy peeking, eavesdropping, drinking off (accidental or perfectly aligned in one’s mind, almost sewn up) the words off of the lips of our neighbors, passer-bys, friends or enemies. We strive to fulfill the need of information – even if it is in no way connected to us per se.
Marion was like that. She lived in one of the smoky blocks of Brooklyn, in a couple-story brick building in the color of coffee washed off of a tablecloth. Her tiny apartment was located on the third floor, with doors (with a small silver number 29) made from walnut wood. On the left there lived a middle-aged married couple. Her – a workaholic, donning a hand-me-down, slightly too tight two-piece. Him – a constantly pouty hothead, who liked hitting the bottle a little too much. Almost each night, when the woman returned home from work, the girl from apartment 29 heard them arguing. The thin walls became the perfect resonator – one could distinguish almost every word in the clamor of commas, exclamation marks and words filled with fury and regret. Marion couldn’t fathom herself putrefying in a relationship like that one.
‘Every day. Like in a Swiss watch.’ Marion whispered on a certain November evening, when the duo threw accusations at one another, like slabs of raw meat onto a butcher’s counter (He has YET AGAIN left an ashtray filled to the brim with fags on the GODDAMN BED, She is a frigid bitch, He in turn fucks like a drunken snail with dementia, She shouldn’t even open her mouth, cause He will punch her so hard she will see the Milky Way SHUT UP YOU SELFISH PRICK SHUT YOUR FACE YOU DUMB WHORE).
In apartment 30 there lived an 80-year old widow. Marion enjoyed looking at her: the old lady’s face (almost certainly the object of fantasies for multiple men) was covered in a thin shroud of wrinkles. Something, which for a contemporary society was a symbol of growing old, decay, evanescence, for Marion was almost a work of art – an amazing carving. Each and every tiny freckle, each ridge and fragment of saggy skin were like a story; a wonderful tale of a once ethereal, breathtaking woman, who outlived her husband, raised a bunch of children, grandchildren…perhaps even great-grandchildren.
The aged neighbor was an agreeable and open-minded person – Marion has been a guest to her numerous tea afternoons, sipped in the company of homemade shortbreads. The girl has swallowed the words coming from the lady’s mouth with unabashed admiration, almost with captivation. Sometimes the sentences tasted like ripe, July cherries, sometimes – like fragrant morning coffee, other times – like the smell of worn out, yellowed pages from a photo album or a first kiss.
Each and every human being had their own story. And Marion was aware of it all too well.
The Smell of Raspberries
The man is staring at the wall instead of looking me straight in the eye. A tear strolls down his cocoa cheek unwittingly – almost resembling a chip of crystal.
‘Ya see, ma’am, sometimes I can smell ‘er hair. She washes it with ‘dis shampoo that smells like raspberries. I could fall asleep with that smell, wake up next to it…’
He pauses, takes a deep breath and wipes away the solitary tear with the back of his palm.
‘When she comes to talk to me, she’s so… frightened. Sometimes she cries, beggin’ me for help. It makes ‘er neck go red. ‘Cause it’s not ‘er face, ya see, only the skin below – almost like her head was a separate being. I want to… stroke that skin on her neck. Calm down her breathin’. Her breaths are so fast, like she is constantly runnin’. I touch her in my thoughts and my thoughts only. I drag my fingertips over her collarbones, glide them over her back, I draw circles on…’
Here, the man clears his throat, blushing like a little boy caught red-handed while flipping through a skin magazine. He’s rubbing his palms continuously, as if he is washing them.
‘I wanna take care of that poor creature. She’s still so young, twenty-four on her meter, I could help ‘er… or at least I would try.’
The man absent-mindedly strokes a tiny dark mark on his temple. It’s in the shape of a pear.
‘I would take her… everywhere! The mountains, the beach, shoppin’ – I would buy ‘er records and books and… ‘Cause she loves to read, ma’am. Loves it! She told me herself. I always see ‘er with a book under ‘er arm. She’s into Nabokov lately. In my younger days he was taboo, Lolita in particular, ‘course. My ma’ only dropped off Jack London and Terry Pratchett for me; all these books fo’ young boys… Have you read Huckleberry Finn? I’ve read all of Twain’s stuff. Couple hundred pages and y’were somewhere else! These days, not so many people read. Did ya know that an average citizen reads one to three books a year, if at all?
I guess that’s why I spotted ‘er. She never folds down the corners of pages to mark where she finished last. She has so many lovely bookmarks – colorful, made of leather, crocheted, bought at the flea market, brought back from one of ‘er trips… Showed me her collection once, when she also brought a cobbler baked by her ma’, as a thank you. So kind… And she chatters like a monkey, m’am, I’m tellin’ ya. When she smiles, a little dimple peeks from ‘er left cheek. Such a surprise, a dimple – as if ‘er giggle wasn’t enough! God’s miracle, ma’am, God’s miracle, I tell ya. Just like the freckles on her nose – they look like raindrops splattered onto ‘er skin, like they thought it’s a damn good joke to squat on her nose. I often think of kissin’ that frickin’ freckly nose. I can sense her warmth and softness, like freshly baked bread. Her eyes… shinin’ like snake skin.’
The man slowly stands up. His dark skin glistens in the afternoon sun; I see every pore and wrinkle on his face. He adjusts his clerical collar and brushes off his soutane.
‘I would never do anything against that girl’s will, m’am. I’d never hurt her. But I can’t even touch ‘er, gosh darn it. I can only thank God that he created ‘er for me. And that sweet, sweet smell o’ raspberries.’
they took away my meaning
ever since I remember
my name held me in its arms
like a mother cradles a weeping child
shielding me from the cruel and bleak world
I allowed my name to be ripped from my chest
like a dream
like a breath
like a heart
death by misadventure
my thighs are cold
like the winter sun
and all these stories are intertwined
with my neurons
like tangled hairs and
and they keep repeating
how I am (re)born and (re)dead
inside this gruesome
from Mars with love
I asked him what he sees in her
he said „the sun,the moon,the stars”
I asked him what he sees in me
„black holes,downpours and hurricanes”
wiją mi się poglądy
które mimo że ślepną od świateł
pchają się pod siatkówkę
muszę je przeturlać na język
niech dojrzewają równo i stabilnie
kwitnąc jak drzewa owocowe wiosną
one będą się uginać od owoców
w jesieni mojego życia
Chcę umrzeć tak, by nikt nie zauważył
Chcę umrzeć w hałasie
Chcę umrzeć boleśnie
I znieczulania umysłu;
Odejść – wbrew wszystkiemu – pokornie
i z dozą
Zarazem pragnę śmierci poetyckiej
Wstążek krwi z podciętych żył;
wiązanek przy trumnie;
Lecz gdy tak robię rachunek istnienia –
jakbym nigdy nie żyła.
cynizm w postaci piłeczek tenisowych
pod moimi oknami spotkały się –
okruchy przeszłych mnie
toczą zażarte dysputy
przekrzykują się i plują jadem
zaprosiłam je na mecz tenisa
rozwinęłam siatkę wspomnień
i rozdałam rakiety
(tamte robione z resztek moich sił)
okruchy grzecznie podzieliły między siebie
cyniczne, twarde piłki
i odbijają tak już, bez przerwy
ładnych parę lat
|Melania Paszek | Publikacje
“Can Vampires Be Feminists? A Closer Look at Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.” w: Spoofing the Vampire: What We Do in the Shadows and the Comedic Vampire (ed. Simon Bacon, Ashley Szanter), McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers USA (przewidywana data publikacji: 2020/2021);
„Family Remains. Family Bonds against the Paranormal in The Haunting of Hill House and Supernatural” w: The Streaming of Hill House. Essays on the Haunting Netflix Adaption. (ed. Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr.), McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, USA. 2020 (książka dostępna do zakupu w Amazon);
Nudes, Likes and VOD: Representation and Influence of Contemporary Media and Social Networking in Cinema and Uniwersytet Śląski, Katowice. 2017 (esej oparty na wykładzie, dostępny tu);
“A Point of Mew”. Tint Journal, Graz, Austria. 2019 (dostępne pod tu);
“Stitches”, WriCent Magazine no.1/2016, Uniwersytet Śląski, Katowice. 2016.
“(un)finished sympathy” oraz „miłosierdzie”. La Feuille Flottante, Wiedeń, Austria. 2018. (pierwszy tekst dostępny pod tym adresem; drugi tekst dostępny w papierowym wydaniu zine’a, dostępnym do zakupu pod tu);
blog The Nation’s Tumor poświęcony prozie: https://thenationstumor.wordpress.com/
blog grafomania poświęcony poezji: https://marilynpalmer.tumblr.com/