Although I primarily know him as a poet, I love Adam Zagewski’s prose. Here is a snippet from his memoir of his student days in Krakow, Another Beauty, beautifully translated by Clare Cavanagh. It’s about the cleaning lady for his student apartment:
She was a magpie, a snoop. I suspected her of regularly rummaging though our things and once left a card that said “Please don’t look here” in my desk drawer. Helena took offense and didn’t speak to me for several days, and then, when her anger had subsided, she reproached me bitterly: “How could you even think such a thing? So you don’t trust me at all.”
And another, more serious reflection:
The Zeitgeist chisels our thoughts and mocks our dreams. I’m intrigued by all kids of walls; the space we inhabit isn’t neutral, it shapes our existence. Landscapes enter our innermost being, they leave traces not just on our retinas but on the deepest strata of our personalities. Those moments when the sky’s blue-gray suddenly stands revealed after a downpour stay with us, as do moments of quiet snowfall. And ideas may even join forces with the snow, through our senses and our body. They cling to the walls of houses. And later the houses and bodies, the senses and ideas all vanish.