To Go to Lvov BY ADAM ZAGAJEWSKI TRANSLATED BY RENATA GORCZYNSKI To go to Lvov. Which station for Lvov, if not in a dream, at dawn, when dew gleams on a suitcase, when express trains and bullet trains are being born. To leave in haste for Lvov, night or day, in September or in March. But only if Lvov exists, if it is to be found within the frontiers and not just in my new passport, if lances of trees —of poplar and ash—still breathe aloud like Indians, and if streams mumble their dark Esperanto, and grass snakes like soft signs in the Russian language disappear into thickets. To pack and set off, to leave without a trace, at noon, to vanish like fainting maidens. And burdocks, green armies of burdocks, and below, under the canvas of a Venetian café, the snails converse about eternity. But the cathedral rises, you remember, so straight, as straight as Sunday and white napkins and a bucket full of raspberries standing on the floor, and my desire which wasn’t born yet, only gardens and weeds and the amber of Queen Anne cherries, and indecent Fredro. There was always too much of Lvov, no one could comprehend its boroughs, hear the murmur of each stone scorched by the sun, at night the Orthodox church’s silence was unlike that of the cathedral, the Jesuits baptized plants, leaf by leaf, but they grew, grew so mindlessly, and joy hovered everywhere, in hallways and in coffee mills revolving by themselves, in blue teapots, in starch, which was the first formalist, in drops of rain and in the thorns of roses. Frozen forsythia yellowed by the window. The bells pealed and the air vibrated, the cornets of nuns sailed like schooners near the theater, there was so much of the world that it had to do encores over and over, the audience was in frenzy and didn’t want to leave the house. My aunts couldn’t have known yet that I’d resurrect them, and lived so trustfully; so singly; servants, clean and ironed, ran for fresh cream, inside the houses a bit of anger and great expectation, Brzozowski came as a visiting lecturer, one of my uncles kept writing a poem entitled Why, dedicated to the Almighty, and there was too much of Lvov, it brimmed the container, it burst glasses, overflowed each pond, lake, smoked through every chimney, turned into fire, storm, laughed with lightning, grew meek, returned home, read the New Testament, slept on a sofa beside the Carpathian rug, there was too much of Lvov, and now there isn’t any, it grew relentlessly and the scissors cut it, chilly gardeners as always in May, without mercy, without love, ah, wait till warm June comes with soft ferns, boundless fields of summer, i.e., the reality. But scissors cut it, along the line and through the fiber, tailors, gardeners, censors cut the body and the wreaths, pruning shears worked diligently, as in a child’s cutout along the dotted line of a roe deer or a swan. Scissors, penknives, and razor blades scratched, cut, and shortened the voluptuous dresses of prelates, of squares and houses, and trees fell soundlessly, as in a jungle, and the cathedral trembled, people bade goodbye without handkerchiefs, no tears, such a dry mouth, I won’t see you anymore, so much death awaits you, why must every city become Jerusalem and every man a Jew, and now in a hurry just pack, always, each day, and go breathless, go to Lvov, after all it exists, quiet and pure as a peach. It is everywhere.