Translations from the Polish


Ewa Parma

Karol’s Bridge in Prague, Watercolor

Here November cuts through the skin
in all shades of gray:
moisture drips from the holy statues
like from the walls of a neolithic grotto.
The rain comes from the direction of Hradczan
and falls in a dirty, rusty streak
into a river of mud.
The fog hangs down in clumps from the branches
and even the saints huddle under their coats.
The good thief keeps watch by the cross.
⁠— Only I ⁠— unnoticed ⁠— leave,
hop on pavement slippery as snail shells, and
head toward the Old Town.
In The Golden Well the fireplace is lit
and tonight they have beer
but all this is useless.
I did not ask for a sliver of the sky
when we stood there
next to each other
cross to cross.

(Translated from the Polish by Linda Nemec Foster and Beata Kane)


Ewa Parma

On the Second Day of Christmas

Tonight, I’ve made you up
but now I can see I’ve been
too much in a hurry
and since you’re still not here
Ginsberg and white blues must do
and a nut cake to follow.
It’s not really the same you know
and not quite enough
but I try very hard not to
keep the postman busy.
What have I got my teeth for
in the end
if not for clenching;
what have I got my hands for
if not for biting;
what have I got the four walls for
if not for a slow suffocation;
what is the roof for
if not for crashing down on my head,
along with the whole world
and another unbearable winter?

(Translated from the Polish by Linda Nemec Foster and the author)