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EssayKatarzyna Karpowicz

By Małgorzata Czyńska

Woman-Bull

They told me – forget your tears, you have a son, a beautiful torero. He’s beautiful, he’s strong, they said as he passed from hand to hand.

Katarzyna Karpowicz

I know this ritual. Hope, pain, happiness, pride, pain again.

It happens in the spring. First I feel a pressure around my heart. A knot of anxiety and terror fills my throat. I'm waiting for the northern wind, the devil's wind, the tramontane. I know it will come, shake the earth, rock my belly, leave behind a boy as small as a grain of black rice.

Katarzyna Karpowicz

I remain ruled by Venus. My zodiac sign says that I'm determined, stubborn and persistent. These are, I think, virtues. I'm also possessive. I'm also sensual. You know that, you've possessed me more than once.

It always happens between midnight and dawn. Madrugada. When I give birth to the little torero, I do not scream in pain. Above my head, a chandelier made out of bulls’ horns sways, blood soaks into the sheet. They will make me a beautiful pink blanket out of it. A choir of women whispers inside me: “Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter’s honour.” I cannot scream. “Killing cleanly and in a way, which gives you aesthetic pleasure and pride has always been one of the greatest enjoyments of a part of the human race.”

Katarzyna Karpowicz Katarzyna Karpowicz

I, the Woman-Bull, give birth to boys. For art, for the arena, for glory, for death.

I am proud and unmoved.

If you have seen tears in my eyes, forget.


The quotations come from Ernest Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon.