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“I scanned my photograph . . .”

by Tadeusz Dąbrowski

translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones


I scanned my photograph from the first year
at primary school: crookedly cut fringe, chubby
little cheeks, a slightly bitten lip,

frighteningly trusting eyes. Gradually I move
the contrast bar, and out of the milky nothingness emerges
a shape that becomes real half way

down the scale, then sinks into the background again. Happy
is he who dies in this way. And now I’m looking in the mirror
and I have to agree to a few wrinkles that

weren’t there not long ago (could they ever
have not been there?). So that’s me, me again, all me,
including the acne scar, the hole in my tooth, and

one day, perhaps, the hole where a tooth once was. Too much
of that me for me to take in, accept as my own.
Bearing in mind that we are only at the body.

 

Tadeusz Dąbrowski (b. 1979) is a Polish poet, essayist, and critic who has won, among other honors, the Hubert Burda Prize (2008) and, from Tadeusz Różewicz, the Prize of the Foundation for Polish Culture (2006). His first collection to appear in English will soon be released by Zephyr Press. He lives in Gdańsk. (5/2009)

Antonia Lloyd-Jones is a freelance editor and translator whose most recently published translation from Polish is Castorp, a novel by Paweł Huelle (Serpent’s Tail, 2007), longlisted for the 2008 Independent Foreign Fiction Award. Her translations of Polish poetry have appeared in The Edinburgh Review and elsewhere. (5/2009)


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