Natasza Goerke: from Rocking Horse

THE SIXTEENTH DAY OF WINTER HAD ENDED. The weather was frosty, the birds had all gone off to hell, and one by one across the so-called sky Lufthansa-held angels sped past.

The angels weren’t my idea; they were Solomon’s, a man who never played the game, but lost anyway. Irrevocably. Forever. And there’s nothing that I, nor anyone, nor anything, can do to break that spell.

“I’m dying,” Solomon informed me one morning when the weather was still warm, birds were chirping, and on the linden tree in the garden aging leaves fluttered briskly. “Unfortunately, I don’t believe in resurrection, and I don’t know what will happen afterward.”

Afterward, there was the afternoon: the September sun crept for a moment into the room and inspired Solomon with the desire to live, then it hid itself again behind the clouds. It lasted just a moment.

“But after all, I might even live another ten years,” Solomon suddenly changed his mind and flashed me a look of reproach. “Why don’t you say something? Even you once told me how every moment is both an end and a beginning, and how that’s precisely why we’re alive, whether in the forest or in the city, the experience of death has never abandoned us…”

Solomon was right: the experience of death was a constant companion. We fell along with the leaves, we withered with the ladybirds, we scried infallibly in the eyes of lovers and monarchs the approaching dusk; only for ourselves were we never capable of foretelling anything. Too faint-hearted to build the house, yet still not carefree enough to do without it, we wandered incoherently through the salons of the real, and although life spread itself out under our feet like a divan, we succeeded only in digressing ever further down the path of degraded substance, through an abstraction of dispersed pathways.

—translated from Polish by W. Martin