My Creepy Lab Story

Stories should make some sense at least (if poems don’t have to).

Here is one I wrote this summer, and I think that for some creepy reason I like it.

I couldn’t come up with any other “title” for it: it’s just that when I think of it, I think: “my creepy lab story”.

And… umm… whether it makes sense or not… I’ll repeat myself:

Nothing has to make sense.

Everything makes sense on some level.

Or does it?


‘You see? The consistency changes.’

In the glass container, which only accidentally resembled an incubator, dense dark-red mass was muddling. The lightest and darkest elements had already shrunk, melted and disappeared from view.

Victoria was standing beside her client and watching her out of the corner of the eye.

She wondered briefly what the woman’s reaction would be if she saw what could be seen behind the glass a few minutes before she came to the lab: a man’s eye sliding up, close to the glass pane, exploding at the top like a firework, only much more slowly, kind of waterily, and then dissolving into the background.

But Victoria was glad the woman didn’t see it. She could then have become the first person disenchanted with the method.

The way it went, the woman was fascinated. Her long black eyelashes didn’t even once flutter as she stood there motionless, and only the muscles of the angles of her mouth kept contracting slightly until at some point they began to relax into a smile.

Everybody liked watching that. It was so much more comforting than watching a casket disappear under the ground with the body hidden in it, destined to disintegrate. Or having strangers burn the body and then deliver it to you like mail order ceramics filled with ashes.

There was relief to be drawn from watching the body of a loved person mix inside the container like strawberries for a dessert, and the relief was starting to show on the woman’s face. Victoria couldn’t help admiring the beauty of it.

‘This is amazing.’

There fell a silence, one of the kind that Victoria had long ago stopped considering awkward. That’s the way it goes: people die, and their loved ones come to see them ground down. And they can’t restrain their wonder.

‘Yes, it is,’ she said softly. ‘Is that your husband, brother…?’

‘Husband. And best friend.’

The board beneath the container now showed the consistency was perfect. And so it was, Victoria couldn’t help thinking, like that of mousse. The percentages on the board were about to start changing as the mass underwent dehydration. Please say goodbye to him now. This is the last moment, she kept herself from saying. As usual, she said it in her mind instead.

A lone tear tracked down the woman’s cheek. Victoria kept herself from drying it with an open hand, whereby she could for a little while feel the long unfelt warmth of a human body.

She belonged here, to this world of cold remains minced in glass containers, the chilled world of initial utilization, a periphery of the world of the living. And on this periphery she was meant to remain.

I know what you’re feeling, she could say, but it wasn’t needed. The woman had digested the death of her husband and was standing beside her in a kind of trance; the words wouldn’t have reached her anyway.

‘That is all. The body,’ Victoria kept herself from adding, or rather what has become of it, ‘is now going to be transferred and further utilised.’

In her mind, she recalled the difficult declension of the Latin utilis. She stole one more look at the woman’s face, but there was no sign at all of her being bothered by the word “utilized”.

She kept herself from reaching the woman’s hand in a gesture of professional goodbye. But the woman half-turned to her and there was a moment when she appeared to be wanting to throw her arms around Victoria and put her head in between the lab assistant’s neck and shoulder.

‘Thank you. It was very important for me to… to say goodbye to him. I’m glad I did that,’ she said in a quiet voice, as if toned down by the experience, and left the lab.

Victoria was glad they didn’t touch.


Have a good day,
Mulan

You Make Me

Once upon a time there was a man called Witold Gombrowicz, and this man wrote a multitude of words, and some of these words had the power to infatuate me, stay with me and, in the long run, make me who I am.
“Man through man. Man in relation to man. Man created by man. Man strenghtened by man”[*]
These are just a sample taken out of the multitude. But they’re important to me.
They made me realize how heavy people weigh on me, and how full of shit my mind is because of their words and actions, but also how many wonderful things in life they let me discover, and how happy a person all of this makes me.
You can take it as a prayer: I just wanted to tell you, my dear multiple human maker, that you make me whenever I come in contact with you.
You make me go back to the here and now when my thoughts have wandered off and you start a conversation. Thanks; the shit’s useful.
You make me go through just the next disillusionment of my life when you’re not capable of treating me with basic respect.
You make me laugh when you tell me about somebody’s death as if it’s funny. Or when you tell me other funny things.
You make me wonder how exactly am I supposed to like this world as you let old hate repeat itself through your words and actions.
You make me an extremely rich person when you tell me stories. Thanks again; the shit tends to be amazing.
You make me want to sterilize all stupid people when I see you punish your child physically in the street.
You make me withdraw when there’s too much of you.
You make me hang on to what’s best in me and you when I see you smile.
And in the long run, you make me me, too.

[*] From Gombrowicz’s Diary, translated by Lillian Vallee. I recently discovered Marek Grechuta made a song out of these words. It’s brilliant.

All the best,
Mulan

P. s. Forgive me the colours. I was feeling colourful, perhaps a bit too much.

Come rain

Here is a little poem about a thing that comes with autumn and whose charm is as unclear to you as that of an autumn morning, with its coldness, and with its sunshine, and with its haziness, and with its tendency to make you wish it doesn’t go away so quickly.

Well, here I am describing and even (damn…) naming things I haven’t a clue about.

Or maybe I have. It’s the haziest clue possible, though.



she is like rain

when you hear her talk,
you could be lying on grass,
and letting her words soak you,
ground you in your field of autumns’
infatuations

almost forgotten
with autumn comes rain


Have a good day,
Mulan

“And I keep walking, I keep walking…”

October has come, which means I’m going to join the crowd of strangers that walks the streets of Kraków every day.

To my mind, Kraków is a city of strangers.

They tread its streets, looking at each other the way strangers will: with uninterested interest.

They hold their breaths when a bus they’re on is full and they have to stand close by other people.

Unwanted closeness gets on their nerves, and they get out and hurriedly go home or to pursue whatever it is they’re here for.

They’re students, tourists, corporats, pensioners, schoolchildren, fugitives and idle onlookers of all sorts. Some of them have definitive aims, while others still look for something to look for.

And this city of strangers takes them in and lets them pursue whatever it is they want.

The strangeness of this city isn’t a bad thing. Strangeness means variety: variety of people, lifestyles, worldviews, and so on.

It’s just a thing I can’t get used to.

So I go on walking these streets, BOKKA’s “Town of Strangers” playing in my mind, and never stop wondering at it.

Not that it’s bad.

The middle

I’ve narrowed my world so that it looks like a

neurone: a number of dendrites around

my home, connecting me, and the

axon, leading down to hell,

and in the middle an

inconspicuous

minute

dot –

me

.


This poem comes from inside a bout of depression, where there was only me and everything revolved around this me, this me being depressed and all this shit — you probably know what I’m talking about.

‘Cause when you’re depressed, it really feels like you’re in the middle of a dark, dark world. And it’s hard to see anything or anyone in this dark. I mean, it can be really dark.

And you stay in the middle. In a sense, you’re always in the middle, and always everything revolves around you.

But they there may come a time when a silhouette or two becomes visible in the dark. And slowly you begin to notice more of them. People like you. And things start to emerge from the dark, too. Each of them gets a shape, and some of them you even start to want.

They revolve around you, like they always do. And having them around you, you light up.

And the incredible thing is how the dark, dark world can then brighten and widen.

Rage, rage

When I was very young I often heard people telling me that if I get angry, I’ll get wrinkles. And even though I didn’t care all that much about wrinkles (I guess children in general don’t; why would they?), it worked like a rubber bullet shot straight in my face.

For what could pacify an emotion better than laughing it off, and in that way suggesting no one gives a shit?

Anger, the very bad cause of wrinkles, and the very bad habit which you should not yet develop when you’re a little girl is only legitimate when you have a solid basis for it and know how to show it.

You learn it as you grow: there are things people are angry about continually, and there are times and places at which they’ll express it in a peaceful manner, helplessly agreeing to the fact that it will only cause wrinkles. But at a certain age one must admit wrinkles are part of life, right? Right, right.

But hey, so is anger.

And not just in the confines of the all-enraging topics which an average adult will take up sooner or later in a conversation. Anger is a natural force that can really bring about more important changes that those on the surface of one’s face. And it’s limitless. There are no proper causes of anger: it’s proper to feel angry whatever the causes are. Whatever age you are. And no matter who you are.

So forget about the wrinkles. Wrinkles are beautiful, and so is genuine anger.

I would so much like to see anger on the face of anyone who actually feels it. Rage, my dear. There is so much to rage against.

Ben Howard–induced blabber

If you’ve got 6 and a half minutes to spare and haven’t so far listened to the word love repeated over and over by a crowd of people for half of that time – this weird experience is waiting for you here.

I’d like to be there with those people, but watching them on youtube is fun, too. I love this song, and I love Ben Howard’s voice, and the jacket or whatever it is he’s wearing here is also kind of cool.

But I meant to write about something else, something which is also weird, and which is also love.

I love words. Not all words, and not always. I simply fall for certain words that people let out in certain particular orders, and on the sole basis of their beauty I obsess.

I may be listening to someone speaking to me, or speaking to someone else, or delivering a lecture, or fucking yelling at a fellow driver on a crossroads and suddenly get intrigued by a word this someone’s just used —

and start thinking, wondering, considering, getting impressed (like I do when someone uses the pluperfect form in Polish) or itchy (like I do when I don’t know the meaning), and putting it down in my memory as if something happened.

Or I may be reading a book — it happens with books mostly — and come upon an order of words that I can’t resist. And I read it for the second and third, and fifteenth time, and soon I have it stolen and secreted in a notebook, or a Word file. As if I found something worthy of theft.

I write as if, but I really have no doubt that words are worthy of that, and that something actually happens when someone uses a word that I can’t let by.

So what happens, exactly? Nothing much, I probably just get more weird.


With love to all of those who also love words,

Mulan