Anusia, Anusieczka, Anusienieczka, my, was she—wasn’t she an enchantment! I was afraid to say it to myself, I wouldn’t do it. It happened once that I spied her as she moved to the window, and her skirt spread out like a flag, like a fold of the chiton of Nike of Samothrace, and she set her foot on the floor as if it were of marble. It happened that her hair shadowed her temples and her eyelashes lay on her cheeks, and when she raised her eyes you thought of dappled shadows swiftly passing.
And her arms up to her elbows were as innocent as a child’s. In those hands, anything she held assumed a separate happiness, even if it were something trivial and unimportant. Anything she touched with her hands was at once dear. Those hands seemed separate from the rest of her.
Once, I remember, we were sitting on the Stryj river beach, an absurd little township beach, the tiny strip of sand tracing human footprints and the grass growing in clumps and the wild bed of the Stryj shallow here, half up to your calf, farther away deep, this incredible home swimming hole, with polished stones and gravel and willow bushes and grass trodden down along the path that leads to this spot. And the congregation of bathers here, it is comical and there are none of the conveniences of the usual bathing places; here are all of the amusing types of the local population, and the teenage Jewish girls parade in preposterous bathing suits, your eyes ache from the play of colors. You change your clothes in the bushes, which seems appropriate on the Stryj.
My Anusia scatters over me, lying on the beach, the sand from her rosy palms as if from an hourglass, and buries me in this white sand. When I am lying down, I look up from below at her kneeling on the sand, her thighs at the bend of her knees solid and hard, her knees white-stained where the skin is stretched hard, and her bathing suit tight on her belly, and there is a charming deep place between her breasts as a promise, and she laughs when she turns her head aside from the flying sand, her cheek curves to her chin, and her hair, most negligently tied up, whips the nape of her neck.
I feel myself by her side so squalid and commonplace that my blood rises to my face; I ponder over the fact that everyone can see how I don’t fit in with this at all, I am astonished at my own impudence that I exist beside her, I should like to prop myself to repair my self-esteem. I say to myself, so that is it, and don’t bother and don’t let yourself down, it is a matter of coincidence that all this gathered in her came out in these girlish, womanish, maidenly proportions, it just turned out so, and as to the matter of hair, it’s because the sun rays break into a thousand colors. And the thighs, you know how it is with women, how they are upholstered with fat like upholsterer’s work, so don’t let yourself down.