BOOKS FEBRUARY 13, 2008
The small crowd by the American consulate
ripples like a jellyfish in water.
A young Dominican strides down the sidewalk
and passersby yield piously.
I'm at home again, silent as a Buddhist.
I count the days of happiness and fretting,
days spent seeking you frantically,
finding just a metaphor, an image,
days of Ecclesiastes and the Psalmist.
I remember the heatstruck scent of heather,
the smell of sap in the forest by the sea,
the dark of a white chapel in Provence,
where only a candle's sun glowed.
I remember Greece's small olives,
Westphalia's gleaming railroads
and the long trip to bid my mother goodbye
on an airplane where they showed a comedy,
everyone laughed loudly.
I returned to the city of sweet cakes,
bitter chocolate and lovely funerals
(a grain of hope was once buried here),
the city of starched memory--
but the anxiety that drives wanderers,
and turns the wheels of bicycles, mills, and clocks,
won't leave me, it remains concealed
in my heart like a starving deserter
in an abandoned circus wagon.
Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh