Essay on Caution
Unmatched is freedom from ties,
he says, giving me a dark blue plum.
I have frayed shoelaces and there is shame
attached to these shoelaces, great shame.
I eat the plum and I drop the pit at my feet, dust
dirties it instantly and there is great shame
attached to this dust, since I cannot
eat it, since I can do nothing with it.
It dirties me, this nothing lurking in the dust,
lurking in the plum. The tram drowns out
the new sentence. I have another plum in my mouth,
my shoelaces will break just before home.
He Liked This
He liked the machine shop, iron shavings on his lips,
his dry gloves he also liked and he won
at craps whenever they played it after the evening
news. He liked t-shirts stained with tea,
sharp spices for the taste of the day. He liked
breaks in conversation, smudged pictures, washing
dishes he hummed popular songs. If he lived
in Norway he’d like fjords, he’d eat shellfish,
he’d be a little colder in his relations with people.
He liked a hot boyish tongue on his lips,
he liked to call it by name, though it doesn’t have a name.
Translations from the Polish
By Marit MacArthur & Marta Pilarska