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“Why does that particular . . .”

by Tadeusz Dąbrowski

translated from Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones

Why does that particular winter’s afternoon,
since there were hundreds like it, speak out in me:
when racing against the night, which had now begun
to fire up the forest on the horizon, amid snowdrifts
and naked black trees sizzling in the frost,
intent on the mantra of the fishing reel, with sight
suspended on hawthorn fruits collaborating
with the sunset, I feel a tugging, and moments later
I see, above the waters of the silt-choked canal,
a pike exposing its rounded belly like a drunken
baroque harlot on the table in a tavern. Why does
that particular afternoon, when I did not yet know
what the baroque was, let alone a harlot, come back to me
all of a sudden, from behind a thick sheet of ice the color of a fish’s
scales. Under the ice I see myself, but I am not certain.

Another new poem by Tadeusz Dąbrowski: “Outside the window falls the rain.”


Tadeusz Dąbrowski is a Polish poet, essayist, and critic. Editor of the literary bimonthly Topos, he has been published in many journals in his native country (among others, Tygodnik Powszechny and Polityka) and abroad (including Boston Review and The American Poetry Review). He is the winner of numerous awards, including the Kościelski Prize (2009), the Hubert Burda Prize (2008), and the Prize of the Foundation for Polish Culture (2006), and was nominated for the NIKE Literary Award (2010). His work has been translated into twenty languages. Dąbrowski is the author of seven volumes of poetry, most recently this year’s Pomiędzy, as well as a collection of poetry in English entitled Black Square (Zephyr Press, 2011). He lives in Gdańsk on the Baltic coast of Poland. (8/2013)

Antonia Lloyd-Jones is a full-time translator of Polish literature. Her published translations of poetry include Black Square by Tadeusz Dąbrowski (Zephyr Press). She has also translated fiction by several of Poland’s leading contemporary novelists, including Paweł Huelle. Her most recent publications include Saturn, a novel by Jacek Dehnel (Dedalus), and Kore, a book of essays on medicine and art by Andrzej Szczeklik (Counterpoint). She also translates reportage and books for children. (8/2013)

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