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The Short Form

“House Taken Over”

Julio Cortázar

Excerpt

But
 it's
 the
 house
 I
 want
 to
 talk
 about,
 the
 house
 and
 Irene,
 I'm
 not
 very
 important.
 I
 wonder
 what
 Irene
 would 
have
 done
 without
 her
 knitting.
 One
 can
 reread
 a
 book,
 but
 once
 a
 pullover
 is
 finished
 you
 can't
 do
 it
 over
 again, 
it's
 some
 kind
 of
 disgrace.
 One
 day
 I
 found
 that
 the
 drawer
 at
 the
 bottom
 of
 the
 chiffonier,
 replete
 with
 moth balls,
 was
 filled
 with
 shawls,
 white,
 green,
 lilac.

 Stacked
 amid
 a
 great
 smell
 of
 camphor — it
 was
 like
 a
 shop;
 I 
didn’t
 have
 the
 nerve
 to
 ask
 her
 what
 she
 planned
 to
 do
 with
 them.
 We
 didn’t
 have
 to
 earn
 our
 living,
 there
 was 
plenty
 coming
 in
 from
 the
 farms
 each
 month,
 even
 piling
 up.

 But
 Irene
 was
 only
 interested
 in
 the
 knitting
 and
 showed
 a 
wonderful
 dexterity,
 and 
for 
me 
the
 hours 
slipped
 away
 watching
 her, 
her 
hands
 like 
silver
sea‐urchins,
 needles 
flashing, 
and 
one 
or 
two 
knitting 
baskets
 on 
the 
floor,
 the
 balls 
of 
yarn 
jumping 
about. 

It 
was 
lovely.





We read it in Blow-Up and Other Stories.

Originally published in Los anales de Buenos Aires.