Paweł Gawroński – The London Literati Commonwealth

Water. Foam leaving behind unnamed jelly upon stones and shells. Glands. Malignant growths. Noise when waves hit the shore. No. No, no shimmering sounds, no gull song. No friendly kind of spray. Noise. Screams. A wild look, through semi-shut eyelids. Dank breath loaded with salt. A giant sky-blue smooth-skinned creature, as yet unwritten upon. You cannot write clean! Only crooked. Left to right, right to left. En guard! How deep will the sword go? A rusty nib? A dagger? The pressure all on me now. This the kind of ice floe I want to dance upon. And not even my pen will stumble from now on. This is no miracle. You cannot see what is happening far off. Maybe some wallpaper mural. Or a tattered reproduction in your grandma’s bedroom, been hanging there a millennia. An unexpected disruption in a preconceived narrative. Tell the truth: you’ve no idea what you’re capable of. Only. Only when you launch. Ships. Speedboats. An epigram. A sonnet. A giant joke framed within a life raft. Only any good at keeping children and idealists afloat. Form, content. Lilos, inflatable armbands and other preventative measures. The ocean lies described in the Bermuda Triangle. A writer gets it wrong only the once. And they, they know it above all else.

They put up parasols. Colourful blankets. Unknown symbols, Greek perhaps. Gather booze. Pour you some third rate brandy. Avant-garde. Sunnies, sun block, satsumas. Seems they’ll be sunning themselves, but no one’s baring anything yet. Hair clips. T-shirts shouting “REPORT” from the breast. Notebooks. Furrowed brows. Wise exchanges. Torture beds. No sandcastles being built. No banalities. No. Those they have learnt to sail around. It all seems so decent at first. Though noises seems to spook them. A storm is almost here. Others shake the rains off quicker. They seem to have forgotten which schools they are borne of. Swimmers, rowers. Journalists and writers. Critics, one and all. Our national characteristic. They look on as the waters start to foam. Moses? The gathering falls, silent. Hold their hands in a circle. No one is to break the ring of protective politeness. Of support. The gathering seems to mean to conceal fear. Insecurities? Doesn’t matter what the poet meant to say! Only what they managed to say!

Hands wrung together expertly. Impossible to unwind. If you cause someone pain it is only to hold on tighter. To bond.

– Darling?

– Beloved! – a sweet brushing of lips against the cheek with each encounter. And god forbid that lipstick should leave a mark. Here literature means money!

– Move aside, you’re blocking the sun!

– Now you’re asking too much methinks…

Journalists, literati, rowers. Yachts, huge, giant yachts. Or a plastic, inflatable banana. Bigger than all other craft. When a small wave reaches the scale of a storm – then they stand up on shore and applaud. No one enters the water. Not even the Chief Ed. Central Operator of the Plastic Banana. Words, nicknames, pseudonyms. Editors. Banana, yacht. Now we can sail back to Poland. Curriculum Fuckwit! They sit in their offices like specialized lifeguards. Experts. Directors. A wooden building casting uneven shadows. Shapes floating on the sand. The downtrodden earth. Everyone avoiding the shade. They don’t even like sunlight. All you need is a sizeable light bulb. A spotlight. But shortages are going to have to be borne. Come. Come. Often. Hold hands. Applaud.

Where were you off to, my good man? I should have guessed a long time ago. When I heard the first stomp. Felt the first touch. Some child’s cry. Concrete here. No sand, no other loose substance seeping delicately through the fingers. Bedrock. They have no intention of moving. Maybe nothing moves them. Nothing tempts. That’s all they have. A giant plastic banana. They’ll defend the bugger. Get it in the water! Forget. Beach, balls, brollies. The dying whistles of the lifeguard, standing by in terror, in turmoil. Literary competition. Though even some dirty outsider can be made to fit. The dazed beachcombers staring, dumb, while paper floats on forever having hit water. Whistles, signals. The long strides of one committed to drowning. Running so fast grains slap against his bare back. Sparks flying sky high, high enough to burn the eyes and torch the crossword puzzles laid out across the sand. A writer gets it wrong only the once. The sea simmers. They stare on with distaste. Attempt no warning. Don’t know how. Don’t know how to swim any more.

by Paweł Gawroński

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translated by Marek Kazmierski