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Smoke

by Adam Zagajewski

translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh


Too many elegies. Too much memory.
The scent of hay and a white heron
flies uncertainly across a field.
We know how to hide the dead.
We don’t want to kill them.
But potent moments of light
elude our spells.
My room is heaped with dreams
piled high like rugs
inside a stuffy oriental shop
and there is no room now for new poems.
The roe-deer won’t take flight,
she tries to prophesy.
No one pays homage to the gods.
An angry prayer is stronger.
Linden flowers, an open wound.
Smoke rises over low-lying towns
and peace enters our homes;
our homes fill with wholeness.

 

Clare Cavanagh is Associate Professor of Slavic Languages at Northwestern University. She translated the works of Wislawa Symborska (with Stanislaw Baranczak) and Adam Zagajewski. Her book Poetry and Power: Russia, Poland and the West is forthcoming from Yale University Press. (2001)

Adam Zagajewski has three collections of poetry in English translation: Tremor (1985), Canvas (1991), and Mysticism for Beginners (1998; co-tr. Clare Cavanagh). His prose in English includes Solidarity, Solitude: Essays (1990), Two Cities (1993), and, most recently, In the Beauty of the Other (2000), all with Farrar, Straus & Giroux. His Selected Poems (tr. Clare Cavanagh) is forthcoming in fall 2001, also from FSG. He divides his time between Paris, Krakow, and Houston, where he teaches creative writing at the University of Houston. (2001)

 


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