Academic journal article Chicago Review

Burial Mounds

Academic journal article Chicago Review

Burial Mounds

Article excerpt

BURIAL MOUNDS I come to see Maciek after several years, and already they have a calm, healthy child, who sleeps and doesn't want to show her eyes. They call her Maryska.

Maryka has just turned thirteen days old, but then she's three weeks, and now she shows

one eye, and peeks up, a little to the right. Maciek says "Mary*ka," "Marychna,"

as if he were getting used to it, gently, paternally, and Agnieszka,

who has as many meat coupons as a miner, and who's dripping with milk,

starts clucking her tongue at her. The white of the other eye, the unfixed gaze, open mouth, tongue sticking out, the whole concentrated face.

I look at the mystery of her navel, at the fleshy vulva, which seems disproportionately large

it will probably be Agnieszka who informs her about those things; Maciek doesn't like the word "vulva," maybe

some bad experience. Milk

pours into her mouth. Walking downstairs, we hear her choking, then she's all right.

We sit, we smoke-All Saints' Day in three weeks. A week or two after my son was born

I kicked two of his mother's aunts down the stairs, well, almost, no violence involved. One of them

bent over him without taking off her coat, the other was ready, it seems, to give him a bath,

or maybe just some advice.

Everybody could see I was being rational, but our rations started to shrink soon after, to shrink before us,

and in the back, whatever that might mean. What's more, the one with the bath

used to sell meat in a meat store long before they had coupons ho ho. Yeah, we used to be impulsive,

and could really hold a grudge, solemn and brief, like a resolution to improve,

until the judgment-or what do you call it-the fatal day! Besides, we do need to forgive.

How else could we survive, all swollen with pain that won't condense or liquefy, but is always therethough one doesn't have to say right away

that one has forgiven. With Maciek, I either told him

or somehow let him know,

but if I had done to him what he did to me, I wouldn't believe such declarations, either. …

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