"Cordelia Talks With Her Mother"
"But it was at moments like these that she realized most sharply
that her mother was lost to her. It was an old tragedy, though, and now
it affected Cordelia not with the intense pain of its first appearance,
but only in that it made her feel more friendless, stretched her nerves
a little tighter. Since she was alone she wanted to be truly alone. And
her mother was talking, she had to answer.
“Why have they gone?”
“No one tells me anything.”
“What shall I tell you? I had a very strange proposal today.”
“Did you, dear?” her mother sounded almost as if she were
responding, but Cordelia knew it was only coincidental. Her mother
began to mutter something to herself. Cordelia made another effort to
“Pan Zaremba wants me to – to enter into a civil contract with
him, what do you think? You like him, don’t you?”
“He’s a dog.”
“No, Mom, Hempseed is a dog.” Cordelia’s head began to hurt.
She glanced at her watch: 10:00. Her mother might be up for hours,
and she wanted so badly to go to bed. She reached for a book and
handed it to her mother, but her mother took it weakly and before long
put it angrily aside. “It’s garbage.”
“You’re probably right,” answered Cordelia wearily.
“It’s all garbage.” She gestured towards the bookshelves, but
that might have been only accidental. “It doesn’t help at all.”
“No.” It didn’t. That was true. There wasn’t a single book there
that Cordelia could reach down and that would help in her situation;
and yet, there were lines swimming up to consciousness: Milton, was it,
about virtue assailed by force and yet unhurt?
If this fail, the pillared firmament is rottenness,
And the earth’s base built on stubble.
Cordelia’s mother interrupted her thoughts. “You’re garbage
too.” She reached out and patted Cordelia on the shoulder.
Cordelia knew that her mother didn’t mean the words, had no
idea what she had said, meant, perhaps, something completely
different, if anything at all."
About The Author
Michelle Granas was born in Alaska; but currently divides her time between Oregon and Poland. She has degrees in philosophy and comparative literature, but now works s a translator. Over the past dozen years she has translated for many of Poland's major politicians and writers, including short pieces for the Nobel Prize winner Lech Walesa and Nobel Prize nominee Ryszard Kapuscinski.
About The Book
Although set in Poland, this is a story that could happen anywhere, as young democracies struggle against the temptations of covert operations and older democracies sometimes lead them astray.