Page 18FCEBD2B-4FEB-41E0-A69A-B0D02E5410AERectangle 52 Przejdź do treści

Welcome to "Przekrój"!

In case you wonder where you are, and especially since you probably can’t pronounce the name of this website, here’s a little help. “Przekrój” (pron. ‘p-SHEH-crooy’) is the oldest magazine about society and culture in Poland. Now it’s also available in English!

“Przekrój” Magazine brings to the English reader some of the best journalism from across Central and Eastern Europe, in such fields as culture, society, ecology and literature. Stand aside from the haste and fierceness of everyday news and join us now!

“gorgeous guys don’t go about in massive jars— / a thought the Anatomy Museum refutes.” A poem ...
2020-08-05 09:00:00

Day at the Anatomy Museum

“Précis de l’anatomie à l’usage des artistes”, 1881, Mathias-Marie Duval
Day at the Anatomy Museum
Day at the Anatomy Museum

gorgeous guys don’t go about in massive jars—
a thought the Anatomy Museum refutes.
from the entrance they’re floating, exquisitely
preserved, sprawling, suspended, their beauty strewn,
& youthfulness, youthfulness above all else,
though boiled clean, pickled in lime, their features
still vivid through the heavy glass. it’s enough
to turn around: there, models after models,
bundles of nerves, ribs removed from teenaged boys,
and cerebrums like meteors. deeper in:
those broken hearts, eyes wide open with surprise,
Eustachian tubas still playing jazz, the moth
of a healthy thyroid pierced by a long pin.
further, the meandering veins, in which one or two
years of war convulsed, full lungs that arrested
breath during his sixteenth spring. A slender stomach
where butterflies remained, and masculine muscles
attached to threads. he goes deeper and deeper
in formaldehyde as he weighs whether to
give himself to science, stay forever young,
pulsing, thronging, thinking. he sees himself
on those threads, measures the jars for fit.
                             then asks Ada, the curator,
if any orange jars are free and maybe
a display case facing the Planty Gardens?

Author’s commentary:

It’s like a concept for a film, which opens with a wide-angle shot that narrows like a pupil, pausing to take in the macabre exhibits at the Anatomy Museum in Kraków. There’s a whiff of must in the air, and from the windows and skulls a chill. Two young men enter the frame. One of them, the narrator and guide, is in good health, anticipating a rosy future. The other, passive in this scene, is growing weaker, without a future, his illness robbing him of months, days, hours. Their visit to the museum, however random, becomes an occasion for weighing whether to donate one’s body to science, and in that way to not die completely, to not disintegrate absolutely, to not lose that transient youthfulness. To become an exhibit in a jar and display case, but looking out on Kraków’s Planty Gardens – a place that connotes life and presents an alternative to the idea propagated by religion of returning to dust. And, in that manner, to rebel against death itself.


Translated from the Polish by Karen Kovacik

A high five for “Przekrój”? Or maybe a ten? By supporting PRZEKRÓJ Foundation, you support humour, reliability and charm.

25 zł ≈ €5.50 / $6.50

* Required fields


Tomasz Pietrzak

was born in 1982. He has published five books of poetry. The latest one was “Bosiny” (2020), which includes the presented poem. He was nominated for the Nike Literary Award twice, in 2013 and 2015. He lives in Katowice and Kraków.