Vasko Popa – Far Within Us

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Vasko Popa – Dandelion

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Vasko Popa, Selected Poems (1969)

Translated by Anne Pennington, introduction by Ted Hughes

Vasko Popa (Serbian Cyrillic: Васко Попа) (June 29, 1922 – January 5, 1991) was a Yugoslav poet of Romanian descent.

Biography

Popa was born in the village of Grebenac, Vojvodina, Serbia. After finishing high school, he enrolled as a student of The Faculty of Philosophy at the Belgrade University. He continued his studies at the University of Bucharest and in Vienna. During World War II, he fought as a partisan and was imprisoned in a German concentration camp in Bečkerek (today Zrenjanin, Serbia).

After the war, in 1949, Popa graduated from the Romanic group of Faculty of Philosophy at Belgrade University. He published his first poems in the magazines Književne novine (Literary Magazine) and daily Borba (Struggle).

From 1954 until 1979 he was the editor of the publishing house Nolit. In 1953 he published his first major verse collection, Kora (Bark). His other important work included Nepočin-polje (Field of No Rest, 1956), Sporedno nebo (Secondary Heaven, 1968), Uspravna zemlja (Earth Erect, 1972), Vučja so (Wolf’s Salt. 1975), and Od zlata jabuka (The Golden Apple, 1978), an anthology of Serbian folk literature. His Collected Poems, 1943–76, a compilation in English translation, appeared in 1978, with an introduction by the British poet Ted Hughes.

On May 29, 1972 Vasko Popa founded “The Literary Municipality Vršac” and originated a library of postcards, called Slobodno lišće (Free Leaves). In the same year, he was elected to become a member of Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts.

Vasko Popa is one of the founders of Vojvodina Academy of Sciences and Arts, established on December 14, 1979 in Novi Sad. He is the first laureate of the Branko’s award (Brankova nagrada) for poetry, established in the honour of the poet Branko Radičević. In the year 1957 Popa received another award for poetry, Zmaj’s Award (Zmajeva nagrada), which honours the poet Jovan Jovanović Zmaj. In 1968 Popa received the Austrian state award for European literature. In 1976 he received the Branko Miljković poetry award, in 1978 the Yugoslav state AVNOJ Award, and in 1983 the literary award Skender Kulenović.

In 1995, the town of Vršac established a poetry award named after Vasko Popa. It is awarded annually for the best book of poetry published in Serbian language. The award ceremony is held on the day of Popa’s birthday, 29 June.

Vasko Popa died on January 5, 1991 in Belgrade and is buried in the Aisle of the Deserving Citizens in Belgrade’s New Cemetery.
Vasko Popa wrote in a succinct modernist style that owed more to French surrealism and Serbian folk traditions than to the Socialist Realism that dominated Eastern European literature after World War II. He created a unique poetic language that combines a modern form with old, oral folk traditions of Serbia – epic poems, stories, myths, riddles, etc. In his work, earthly and legendary mix, the myths come to surface from the collective subconscious, the inheritance and everyday are in constant interplay.

Since his first book of verse, Kora, Vasko Popa has gained steadily in stature and popularity. His poetic achievement – eight volumes of verse written over a period of thirty-eight years – has received extensive critical acclaim both in his native land and beyond. He is one of the most translated Serbian poets

Poetical oeuvre:

* Kora (Bark), 1953
* Nepočin polje (Field of No Rest),1965
* Sporedno nebo (Secondary Heaven), 1968
* Uspravna zemlja (Earth Erect) 1972
* Vučja so (Wolf’s Salt), 1975
* Kuća nasred druma (Home in the Middle of the Road), 1975
* Živo meso (Raw Meat), 1975
* Rez (The Cut), 1981

A Supermarket in California

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What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.

In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!

What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes! —and you, García Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?

   I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.

I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel?

I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you, and followed in my imagination by the store detective.

We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier.

   Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. Which way does your beard point tonight?

(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel absurd.)

Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we’ll both be lonely.

Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?

Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe?

Berkeley, 1955

Allen Ginsberg-Collected Poems 1947-1997-Harper Perennial Modern Classics (2007)

After Making Love We Hear Footsteps

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For I can snore like a bullhorn
or play loud music
or sit up talking with any reasonably sober Irishman
and Fergus will only sink deeper
into his dreamless sleep, which goes by all in one flash,
but let there be that heavy breathing
or a stifled come-cry anywhere in the house
and he will wrench himself awake
and make for it on the run—as now, we lie together,
after making love, quiet, touching along the length of our bodies,
familiar touch of the long-married,
and he appears—in his baseball pajamas, it happens,
the neck opening so small he has to screw them on—
and flops down between us and hugs us and snuggles himself to sleep,
his face gleaming with satisfaction at being this very child.

In the half darkness we look at each other
and smile and touch arms across this little, startlingly muscled body—
this one whom habit of memory propels to the ground of his making,
sleeper only the mortal sounds can sing awake,
this blessing love gives again into our arms.

Galway Kinnell-A New Selected Poems-Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2001)

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by John Ashbery


The passionate are immobilized.
The case-hardened undulate over walls
of the library, in more or less expressive poses.
The equinox again, not knowing
whether to put the car in reverse
or slam on the brakes at the entrance
to the little alley. Seasons belong
to others than us. Our work keeps us
up late nights; there is no more joy
or sorrow than in what work gives.
A little boy thought the raven on the bluff
was a winged instrument; there is so little
that gives and says it gives. Others
felt themselves ostracized by the moon.
The pure joy of daily living became impacted
with the blood of fate and battles.
There’s no turning back the man says,
the one waiting to take tickets at the top
of the gangplank. Still, in the past
we could always wait a little. Indeed,
we are waiting now. That’s what happens.

meaningful love

by John Ashbery


What the bad news was
became apparent too late
for us to do anything good about it.
I was offered no urgent dreaming,
didn’t need a name or anything.
Everything was taken care of.
In the medium-size city of my awareness
voles are building colossi.
The blue room is over there.
He put out no feelers.
The day was all as one to him.
Some days he never leaves his room
and those are the best days,
by far.
There were morose gardens farther down the slope,
anthills that looked like they belonged there.
The sausages were undercooked,
the wine too cold, the bread molten.
Who said to bring sweaters?
The climate’s not that dependable.
The Atlantic crawled slowly to the left
pinning a message on the unbound golden hair of sleeping maidens,
a ruse for next time,
where fire and water are rampant in the streets,
the gate closed—no visitors today
or any evident heartbeat.
I got rid of the book of fairy tales,
pawned my old car, bought a ticket to the funhouse,
found myself back here at six o’clock,
pondering “possible side effects.”
There was no harm in loving then,
no certain good either. But love was loving servants
or bosses. No straight road issuing from it.
Leaves around the door are penciled losses.
Twenty years to fix it.
Asters bloom one way or another.

QUADRATURIN

Sigizmund Krzhizhanowsky

QUADRATURIN

Translated by Joanne Turnbull

(from Glas 39)

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From outside there came a soft knock at the door: once. Pause. And again – a bit louder and bonier: twice.
Sutulin, without rising from his bed, extended – as was his wont – a foot towards the knock, threaded a toe through the door handle, and pulled. The door swung open. On the threshold, head grazing the lintel, stood a tall, grey man the colour of the dusk seeping in at the window.
Before Sutulin could set his feet on the floor the visitor stepped inside, wedged the door quietly back into its frame and, jabbing first one wall, then another, with a briefcase dangling from an apishly long arm, said, “Yes: a matchbox.”
“What?”
“Your room, I say: it’s a matchbox. How many square feet?”
“Eighty-six and a bit.”
“Precisely. May I?”
And before Sutulin could open his mouth, the visitor sat down on the edge of the bed and hurriedly unbuckled his bulging briefcase. Lowering his voice almost to a whisper, he went on, “I’m here on business. You see, I, that is, we, are conducting, how shall I put it… well, experiments, I suppose. Under wraps for now. I won’t hide the fact: a well-known foreign firm has an interest in our concern. You want the electric-light switch? No, don’t bother: I’ll only be a minute. So then: we have discovered – this is a secret now – an agent for biggerizing rooms. Well, won’t you try it?”
The stranger’s hand popped out of the briefcase and proffered Sutulin a narrow dark tube, not unlike a tube of paint, with a tightly screwed cap and a leaden seal. Sutulin fidgeted bewilderedly with the slippery tube and, though it was nearly dark in the room, made out on the label the clearly printed word: Quadraturin. When he raised his eyes, they came up against the fixed, unblinking stare of his interlocutor.
“So then, you’ll take it? The price? Goodness, it’s gratis. Just for advertising. Now if you’ll” – the guest began quickly leafing through a sort of ledger he had produced from the same briefcase – “just sign this book (a short testimonial, so to say). A pencil? Have mine. Where? Here: column III. That’s it.”
His ledger clapped shut, the guest straightened up, wheeled round, stepped to the door… and a minute later Sutulin, having snapped on the light, was considering with puzzledly raised eyebrows the clearly embossed letters:Quadraturin.
On closer inspection it turned out that this zinc packet was tightly fitted – as is often done by the makers of patented agents – with a thin transparent paper whose ends were expertly glued together. Sutulin removed the paper sheath from the Quadraturin, unfurled the rolled-up text, which showed through the paper’s transparent gloss, and read:

DIRECTIONS
Dissolve 1 teaspoon of the Quadraturin essence in 1 cup of water. Wet a piece of cotton wool or simply a clean rag with the solution; apply this to those of the room’s internal walls designated for proliferspansion. This mixture leaves no stains, will not damage wallpaper, and even contributes – incidentally – to the extermination of bedbugs.

Thus far Sutulin had been only puzzled. Now his puzzlement was gradually overtaken by another feeling, strong and disturbing. He stood up and tried to pace from corner to corner, but the corners of this living cage were too close together: a walk amounted to almost nothing but turns, from toe to heel and back again. Sutulin stopped short, sat down and, closing his eyes, gave himself up to thoughts, which began: Why not…? What if…? Suppose…? To his left, not three feet away from his ear, someone was driving an iron spike into the wall. The hammer kept slipping, banging and aiming, it seemed, at Sutulin’s head. Rubbing his temples, he opened his eyes: the black tube lay in the middle of the narrow table, which had managed somehow to insinuate itself between the bed, the windowsill and the wall. Sutulin tore away the leaden seal, and the cap span off in a spiral. From out of the round aperture came a bitterish gingery smell. The smell made his nostrils flare pleasantly.
“Hmm… Let’s try it. Although…”
And, having removed his jacket, the possessor of Quadraturin proceeded to the experiment. Stool up against door, bed into middle of room, table on top of bed. Nudging across the floor a saucer of transparent liquid, its glassy surface gleaming with a slightly yellowish tinge, Sutulin crawled along after it, systematically dipping a handkerchief wound round a pencil into the Quadraturin and daubing the floorboards and patterned wallpaper. The room really was, as that man today had said, a matchbox. But Sutulin worked slowly and carefully, trying not to miss a single corner. This was rather difficult since the liquid really did evaporate in an instant or was absorbed (he couldn’t tell which) without leaving even the slightest film; there was only its smell, increasingly pungent and spicy, making his head spin, confounding his fingers and causing his knees, pinned to the floor, to tremble slightly. When he had finished with the floorboards and the bottom of the walls, Sutulin rose to his strangely weak and heavy feet and continued to work standing up. Now and then he had to add a little more of the essence. The tube was gradually emptying. It was already night outside. In the kitchen, to the right, a bolt came crashing down. The apartment was readying for bed. Trying not to make any noise, the experimenter, clutching the last of the essence, climbed up onto the bed and from the bed up onto the tottering table: only the ceiling remained to be quadraturinized. But just then someone banged on the wall with his fist, “What’s going on? People are trying to sleep, but he’s…”
Turning round at the sound, Sutulin fumbled: the slippery tube spurted out of his hand and landed on the floor. Balancing carefully, Sutulin got down with his already drying brush, but it was too late. The tube was empty, and the rapidly fading spot around it smelled stupefyingly sweet. Grasping at the wall in his exhaustion (to fresh sounds of discontent from the left), he summoned his last bit of strength, put the furniture back where it belonged and, without undressing, fell into bed. A black sleep instantly descended on him from above: both tube and man were empty.

2

Two voices began in a whisper. Then by degrees of sonority – from piano to mf, from mf to fff – they cut into Sutulin’s sleep.
“Outrageous. I don’t want any new tenants popping out from under that skirt of yours… Put up with all that racket?!”
“Can’t just dump it in the garbage…”
“I don’t want to hear about it. You were told: no dogs, no cats, no children…” at which point there ensued such fff that Sutulin was ripped once and for all from his sleep; unable to part eyelids stitched together with exhaustion, he reached – as was his wont – for the edge of the table on which stood the clock. Then it began. His hand groped for a long time, grappling air: there was no clock and no table. Sutulin opened his eyes at once. In an instant he was sitting up, looking dazedly round the room. The table that usually stood right here, at the head of the bed, had moved off into the middle of a faintly familiar, large but ungainly room.
Everything was the same: the skimpy, threadbare rug that had trailed after the table somewhere up ahead of him, and the photographs, and the stool, and the yellow patterns on the wallpaper. But they were all strangely spread out inside the expanded room cube.
“Quadraturin,” thought Sutulin, “is terrific!”
And he immediately set about rearranging the furniture to fit the new space. But nothing worked: the abbreviated rug, when moved back beside the bed, exposed worn, bare floorboards; the table and the stool, pushed by habit against the head of the bed, had disencumbered an empty corner latticed with cobwebs and littered with shreds and tatters, once artfully masked by the corner’s own crowdedness and the shadow of the table. With a triumphant, but slightly frightened smile, Sutulin went all round his new, practically squared square, scrutinizing every detail. He noted with displeasure that the room had grown more in some places than in others: an external corner, the angle of which was now obtuse, had made the wall askew; Quadraturin, apparently, did not work as well on internal corners; carefully as Sutulin had applied the essence, the experiment had produced somewhat uneven results.
The apartment was beginning to stir. Out in the corridor, occupants shuffled to and fro. The bathroom door kept banging. Sutulin walked up to the threshold and turned the key to the right. Then, hands clasped behind his back, he tried pacing from corner to corner: it worked. Sutulin laughed with joy. How about that! At last! But then he thought: they may hear my footsteps – through the walls – on the right, on the left, at the back. For a minute he stood stock-still. Then he quickly bent down – his temples had suddenly begun to ache with yesterday’s sharp thin pain – and, having removed his boots, gave himself up to the pleasure of a stroll, moving soundlessly about in only his socks.
“May I come in?”
The voice of the landlady. He was on the point of going to the door and unlocking it when he suddenly remembered: he mustn’t. “I’m getting dressed. Wait a minute. I’ll be right out.”
“It’s all very well, but it complicates things. Say I lock the door and take the key with me. What about the keyhole? And then there’s the window: I’ll have to get curtains. Today.” The pain in his temples had become thinner and more nagging. Sutulin gathered up his papers in haste. It was time to go to the office. He dressed. Pushed the pain under his cap. And listened at the door: no one there. He quickly opened it. Quickly slipped out. Quickly turned the key. Now.
Waiting patiently in the entrance hall was the landlady.
“I wanted to talk to you about that girl, what’s her name. Can you believe it, she’s submitted an application to the House Committee saying she’s…”
“I’ve heard. Go on.”
“It’s nothing to you. No one’s going to take your eighty-six square feet away. But put yourself in my…”
“I’m in a hurry,” he nodded his cap, and flew down the stairs.

3

On his way home from the office, Sutulin paused in front of the window of a furniture dealer: the long curve of a couch, a round extendable table… it would be nice – but how could he carry them in past the eyes and the questions? They would guess, they couldn’t help but guess…
He had to limit himself to the purchase of a yard of canary-yellow material (he did, after all, need a curtain). He didn’t stop by the cafe: he had no appetite. He needed to get home – it would be easier there: he could reflect, look round and make adjustments at leisure. Having unlocked the door to his room, Sutulin gazed about to see if anyone was looking: they weren’t. He walked in. Then he switched on the light and stood there for a long time, his arms spread flat against the wall, his heart beating wildly: this he had not expected – not at all.
The Quadraturin was still working. During the eight or nine hours Sutulin had been out, it had pushed the walls at least another seven feet apart; the floorboards, stretched by invisible rods, rang out at his first step – like organ pipes. The entire room, distended and monstrously misshapen, was beginning to frighten and torment him. Without taking off his coat, Sutulin sat down on the stool and surveyed his spacious and at the same time oppressive coffin-shaped living box, trying to understand what had caused this unexpected effect. Then he remembered: he hadn’t done the ceiling – the essence had run out. His living box was spreading only sideways, without rising even an inch upwards.
“Stop. I have to stop this quadraturinizing thing. Or I’ll…” He pressed his palms to his temples and listened: the corrosive pain, lodged under his skull since morning, was still drilling away. Though the windows in the house opposite were dark, Sutulin took cover behind the yellow length of curtain. His head would not stop aching. He quietly undressed, snapped out the light and got into bed. At first he slept, then he was awoken by a feeling of awkwardness. Wrapping the covers more tightly about him, Sutulin again dropped off, and once more an unpleasant sense of mooringlessness interfered with his sleep. He raised himself up on one palm and felt all around him with his free hand: the wall was gone. He struck a match. Um hmm: he blew out the flame and hugged his knees till his elbows cracked. “It’s growing, damn it, it’s still growing.” Clenching his teeth, Sutulin crawled out of bed and, trying not to make any noise, gently edged first the front legs, then the back legs of the bed toward the receding wall. He felt a little shivery. Without turning the light on again, he went to look for his coat on that nail in the corner so as to wrap himself up more warmly. But there was no hook on the wall where it had been yesterday, and he had to feel around for several seconds before his hands chanced upon fur. Twice more during a night that was long and nagging as the pain in his temples, Sutulin pressed his head and knees to the wall as he was falling asleep and, when he awoke, fiddled about with the legs of the bed again. In doing this – mechanically, meekly, lifelessly – he tried, though it was still dark outside, not to open his eyes: it was better that way.

4

Towards dusk the next evening, having served out his day, Sutulin was approaching the door to his room: he did not quicken his step and, upon entering, felt neither consternation nor horror. When the dim, sixteen candle-power bulb lit up somewhere in the distance beneath the long low vault, its yellow rays struggling to reach the dark, ever-receding corners of the vast and dead, yet empty barrack, which only recently, before Quadraturin, had been a cramped but cozy, warm and lived-in cubbyhole, he walked resignedly towards the yellow square of the window, now diminished by perspective; he tried to count his steps. From there, from a bed squeezed pitifully and fearfully in the corner by the window, he stared dully and wearily through deep-boring pain at the swaying shadows nestled against the floorboards, and at the smooth low overhang of the ceiling. “So, something forces its way out of a tube, and can’t stop squaring: a square squared, a square of squares squared. I’ve got to think faster than it: if I don’t outthink it, it will outgrow me and…” And suddenly someone was hammering on the door, “Citizen Sutulin, are you in there?”
From the same faraway place came the muffled and barely audible voice of the landlady, “He’s in there. Must be asleep.”
Sutulin broke into a sweat: “What if I don’t get there in time, and they go ahead and…” And, trying not to make a sound (let them think he was asleep), he slowly made his way through the darkness to the door. There.
“Who is it?”
“Oh, open up! Why’s the door locked? Re-measuring Commission. We’ll remeasure and leave.” Sutulin stood with his ear pressed to the door. Through the thin panel he could hear the clump of heavy boots. Figures were being mentioned, and room numbers.
“This room next. Open up!”
With one hand Sutulin gripped the knob of the electric-light switch and tried to twist it, as one might twist the head of a bird: the switch spattered light, then crackled, spun feebly round and drooped down. Again someone hammered on the door, “Well!”
Sutulin turned the key to the left. A broad black shape squeezed itself into the doorway.
“Turn on the light.”
“It’s burned out.”
Clutching at the door handle with his left hand, and the bundle of wire with his right, he tried to hide the extended space from view. The black mass took a step back.
“Who’s got a match? Give me that box. We’ll have a look anyway. Do things right.”
Suddenly the landlady began whining, “Oh, what is there to look at? Eighty-six square feet for the eighty-sixth time. Measuring the room won’t make it any bigger. He’s a quiet man, home from a long day at the office – and you won’t let him rest: have to measure and remeasure. Whereas other people, who have no right to the space, but…”
“Ain’t that the truth,” the black mass muttered and, rocking from boot to boot, gently and even almost affectionately drew the door to the light. Sutulin was left alone on wobbling, cottony legs in the middle of the four-cornered, inexorably growing and proliferating darkness.

5

He waited until their steps had died away, then quickly dressed and went out. They’d be back, to remeasure or check they hadn’t under-measured or whatever. He could finish thinking better here – from crossroad to crossroad. Towards night a wind came up: it rattled the bare frozen branches on the trees, shook the shadows loose, droned in the wires and beat against walls, as if trying to knock them down. Hiding the needle-like pain in his temples from the wind’s buffets, Sutulin went on, now diving into the shadows, now plunging into the lamplight. Suddenly, through the wind’s rough thrusts, something softly and tenderly brushed against his elbow. He turned round. Beneath feathers batting against a black brim, a familiar face with provocatively half-closed eyes. And barely audible through the moaning air: “You know you know me. And you look right past me. You ought to bow. That’s it.”
Her slight figure, tossed back by the wind, perched on tenacious stiletto heels, was all insubordination and readiness for battle.
Sutulin tipped his cap. “But you were supposed to be going away. And you’re still here? Then something must have prevented…”
“That’s right – this.”
And he felt a chamois finger touch his chest then dart back into the muff. He sought out the narrow pupils of her eyes beneath the dancing black feathers, and it seemed that one more look, one more touch, one more shock to his hot temples, and it would all come unthought, undone and fall away. Meanwhile she, her face nearing his, said, “Let’s go to your place. Like last time. Remember?”
With that, everything stopped.
“That’s impossible.”
She sought out the arm that had been pulled back and clung to it with tenacious chamois fingers.
“My place… isn’t fit,” he looked away, having again withdrawn both his arms and the pupils of his eyes.
“You mean to say it’s cramped. My God, how silly you are. The more cramped it is…” The wind tore away the end of her phrase. Sutulin did not reply. “Or, perhaps you don’t…”
When he reached the turning, he looked back: the woman was still standing there, pressing her muff to her bosom, like a shield; her narrow shoulders were shivering with cold; the wind cynically flicked her skirt and lifted up the lappets of her coat.
“Tomorrow. Everything tomorrow. But now…” And, quickening his pace, Sutulin turned resolutely back.
“Right now: while everyone’s asleep. Collect my things (only the necessaries) and go. Run away. Leave the door wide open: let them. Why should I be the only one? Why not let them?”
The apartment was indeed sleepy and dark. Sutulin walked down the corridor, straight and to the right, opened the door with resolve and, as always, wanted to turn the light switch, but it spun feebly in his fingers, reminding him that the circuit had been broken. This was an annoying obstacle. But it couldn’t be helped. Sutulin rummaged in his pockets and found a box of matches: it was almost empty. Good for three or four flares – that’s all. He would have to husband both light and time. When he reached the coat pegs, he struck the first match: light crept in yellow radiuses through the black air. Sutulin purposely, overcoming temptation, concentrated on the illuminated scrap of wall and the coats and jackets hanging from hooks. He knew that there, behind his back, the dead, quadraturinized space with its black corners was still spreading. He knew and did not look round. The match smouldered in his left hand, his right pulled things off hooks and flung them on the floor. He needed another flare; looking at the floor, he started towards the corner – if it was still a corner and if it was still there – where, by his calculations, the bed should have fetched up, but he accidentally held the flame under his breath – and again the black wilderness closed in. One last match remained: he struck it over and over: it would not light. One more time – and its crackling head fell off and slipped through his fingers. Then, having turned around, afraid to go any further into the depths, the man started back towards the bundle he had abandoned under the hooks. But he had made the turn, apparently, inexactly. He walked – heel to toe, heel to toe – holding his fingers out in front of him, and found nothing: neither the bundle, nor the hooks, nor even the walls. “I’ll get there in the end. I must get there.” His body was sticky with cold and sweat. His legs wobbled oddly. The man squatted down, palms on the floorboards: “I shouldn’t have come back. Now here I am alone, nowhere to turn.” And suddenly it struck him: “I’m waiting here, but it’s growing, I’m waiting, but it’s…”
In their sleep and in their fear, the occupants of the quadratures adjacent to citizen Sutulin’s eighty-six square feet couldn’t make head or tail of the timbre and intonation of the cry that woke them in the middle of the night and compelled them to rush to the threshold of the Sutulin cell: for a man who is lost and dying in the wilderness to cry out is both futile and belated: but if even so – against all sense – he does cry out, then, most likely, thus.

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