Monday, April 03, 2006

Adam Zagajewski


The city comes to a standstill
and life turns into still life,
it is as brittle as plants in a herbarium.
You ride a bicycle which doesn’t
move, only the houses wheel by,
slowly, showing their noses, brows,
and pouting lips. The evening becomes
a still life, it doesn’t feel like existing,
therefore it glistens like a Chinese lantern
in a peaceful garden. Nightfall, motionless,
the last one. The last word. Happiness
hovers in the crowns of the trees.
Inside the leaves, kings are asleep.
No word, the yellow sail of the sun
Towers over the roofs like a tent abandoned
by Caesar. Pain becomes still life and despair
is only a still life, framed
by the mouth of one passerby. The square
keeps silent in a dark foliage of birds’
wings. Silence as on the fields of Jena
after the battle when loving women
look at the faces of the slain.

From the book, Tremor, FSG; 1985


It is small and no more visible than a cricket
in August. It likes to dress up, to masquerade,
as all dwarfs do. It lodges between
granite blocks, between serviceable
truths. It even fits under
a bandage, under adhesive. Neither customs officers
nor their beautiful dogs will find it. Between
hymns, between alliances, it hides itself.
It camps in the Rocky Mountains of the skull.
An eternal refugee. It is I and I,
with the fearful hope that I have found at last
a friend, am it. But the self
is so lonely, so distrustful, it does not
accept anyone, even me.
It clings to historical events
no less tightly than water to a glass.
It could fill a Neolithic jar.
It is insatiable, it wants to flow
in aqueducts, it thirsts for newer and newer vessels.
It wants to taste space without walls,
diffuse itself, diffuse itself. Then it fades away
like desire, and in the silence of an August
night you hear only crickets patiently
conversing with the stars.

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