I remember several stories that used to be told in the village from which my Father comes from. One type of these stories in particular. They resembled a challenge, a test for the listeners whether they would persevere to the end without begging the speaker, terrified, to stop the tale; and above all, a test whether the listener would cope with the knowledge conveyed in the story, with the memory of the event recounted and its significance for subsequent experiences and situations, resembling these stories in a way. You could call them horror stories, but such a category has little to do with the experience of listening to such a story and absorbing it. Entertainment it was not. It was something you would prefer not to have heard. It was pure horror; a shadow cast over all conscious thoughts and dreams for days and weeks to come. All in all, they were short dramas, with perhaps unneeded but still depicted scene (a kitchen, a stove bench) and sparse lighting to deepen the contrast of the barely illuminated interior, while the darkness outside, just behind the window, was infinite. In fact, these were small rituals that would reveal (but would not help to adjust to) some other truth. Ones that would take you out of your carefree world and would lead you into the darkness. The storyteller led the listeners into that darkness by the hand. She would walk the line of the listeners’ endurance, stopping when necessary, allowing them to look behind them to make sure that the world they knew still existed. She could also go back and bring the old world back again, but it was clear that not being able to persevere through the entire story was a great shame. She wielded that absolute, wise, sensitive, and terrifying power.


Kóba in the belly of the King of the Snakes, by the sea, in his guts. He asks for a heart. This is not how you should talk to the King, but a good girl will come to his aid. The void on the left side will move.


Before I can return to Leśmian, Kóba must return to the surface. Leśmian needs for Kóba to return to the land of the living.


(transl. Magdalena Małek-Andrzejowska)