The small crowd by the American consulate

ripples like a jellyfish in water.

A young Dominican strides down the sidewalk

and passersby yield piously.

I'm at home again, silent as a Buddhist.

I count the days of happiness and fretting,

days spent seeking you frantically,

finding just a metaphor, an image,

days of Ecclesiastes and the Psalmist.


I remember the heatstruck scent of heather,

the smell of sap in the forest by the sea,

the dark of a white chapel in Provence,

where only a candle's sun glowed.

I remember Greece's small olives,

Westphalia's gleaming railroads

and the long trip to bid my mother goodbye

on an airplane where they showed a comedy,

everyone laughed loudly.


I returned to the city of sweet cakes,

bitter chocolate and lovely funerals

(a grain of hope was once buried here),

the city of starched memory--

but the anxiety that drives wanderers,

and turns the wheels of bicycles, mills, and clocks,

won't leave me, it remains concealed

in my heart like a starving deserter

in an abandoned circus wagon.


Adam Zagajewski

Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh