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To Barbara

How lightly we live! Just beyond the horizon

an old volcano, thought inactive, lets off smoke.

They tell us time’s about to burst, same as before,

neighbors are packing, they’re closing the roads,

we wake to find signs painted on our doors,

but we keep living lightly. Time so many times

would’ve caught us but couldn’t, we kept changing form.

When time surged forth like lava, we became outlines,

when it blew up, we crawled into the earth,

when it turned trainlike, we became ash cloud,

when it turned sniper, we became but breath,

a feather above the rubble heap, a voice calling out

for the kids to come home. We’re the letter excised

from a verdict already passed. The slow dance of flecks

when furniture is moved, the joyful subsiding

of dust as it falls, we are the star of its journey.


Mira Rosenthal, translation from
the Polish written by Tomasz Różycki

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