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A Crossing

by Tomasz Różycki

translated from the Polish by Mira Rosenthal

The left bank is in the fatherland, but not the right.
This means the birch tree is, but not the beech.
And in between fish live in the dark. Yesterday I threw
bread into the water and from afar watched it turn murky.

Then I quietly uttered the words. And then you could hear
frogs croaking, carp smacking their lips. In the morning I threw
bread into the water and watched it sink. The silt devours
all good wishes, and the way through remains unknown.

Today I went back and did it again, moving my lips
like a moon on black water. Before you take a step,
wait for a sign from the sludge. A call will lead you, a kiss
from lips blue with cold, sleep light as a hollowed out canoe.

On the left bank is the beech tree, on the other side the birch.
And boats lie at the bottom. The fatherland is beyond the fog.


Tomasz Różycki is a contemporary Polish poet. He is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Colonies, and the book-length poem Twelve Stations, winner of the Kościelski Prize. His work has been translated into numerous European languages, and The Forgotten Keys: Selected Poetry of Tomasz Różycki (translated by Mira Rosenthal) has just been published by Zephyr Press. He has received the Krzysztof Kamiel Baczyński Prize, the Joseph Brodski Prize from Zeszyty Literackie, and has been nominated twice for the Nike Prize, Poland’s most important literary award. He lives in his native city Opole with his wife and two children. (8/2007)

Mira Rosenthal is a poet and translator. Her work has appeared recently in Ploughshares, The American Poetry Review, Seneca Review, Notre Dame Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Harpur Palate, PRISM, and elsewhere . Her awards include a Fulbright Fellowship and residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and the Banff Centre. (8/2007)

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