by Adam Zagajewski
I was born in a city of wild cherries
and hard-seeded sunflowers (common wisdom
had it halfway from the West
to the East). Globes stained by verdigris
kept careless vigil.
Might only the absence of presence be perfect?
Presence, after all, infected with the original
sin of existence, is excessive, savage,
Oriental, superb, while beauty, like a fruit knife,
snips its bit of plentitude off.
Life accumulates through generations
as in a pond; it doesn’t vanish
with its moment but turns
airy and dry. I think
of a half-conscious prayer, the chapped lips
of a boy at his first confession,
the wooden step creaking
under his knees.
At night, autumn arrives
for the harvest, yellow, ripe for flame.
There are, I know, not one
but at least four realities,
like the Gospels.
I know I’m alone, but linked
firmly to you, painfully, gladly.
I know only the mysteries are immortal.
Translated by Renata Gorczynski, Benjamin Ivry, and C.K. Williams