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The sun sets and prying pelicans fly just above the sea's

smooth skin; you watch a fisherman killing a caught fish, invincibly

convinced of his humanity, while rosy clouds commence their slow,solemn

march to the night's foothills-- you stay a moment, waiting to seedolphins - -maybe they'll dance their famous friendly tango onceagain-- here, on the Gulf of Mexico, where you find tire marks

and mussels along the broad beaches, and energetic crabs that exitthe sand like workers deserting

a subterranean factory en masse. You notice abandoned, rusty loadingtowers. You walk along a stone lock and wave to a few anglers,modest types, fishing not for sport, just in hope of postponing thelast supper. A vast, brick-red ship from Monrovia sails up

the port canal like some bizarre imaginary beast boasting

of its own oddness, and briefly blocks the horizon. You think: it'sworth seeking the backwaters, provincial spots that remember much,but are uncommonly discreet, quiet, humble places, rich, though, incaches, hidden pockets of memory

like hunters' jackets in the fall, the bustling town's outskirts,wastelands where nothing happens,

there are no famous actors, politicians and journalists don'tappear, but sometimes poetry is born in emptiness, and you start tothink that your childhood

halted here, here, far from long-familiar streets-- since absenceafter all can't calculate distance

in light years or kilometers, instead it calmly waits for yourreturn, doubtless wondering

what's become of you. It meets you without fanfare and says: Don'tyou know me? I'm a stamp from your vanished

collection, I'm the stamp that showed you your first dolphin on abackdrop of unreal, misty blue. I'm the sign of travel.


By Adam Zagajewski; Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh