En Route

by Adam Zagajewski

translated by Clare Cavanagh

Read by…

1.  without baggage
    To travel without baggage, sleep in the train
    on a hard wooden bench,
    forget your native land,
    emerge from small stations
    when a gray sky rises
    and fishing boats head to sea.
2.  in belgium
    It was drizzling in Belgium
    and the river wound between hills.
    I thought, I’m so imperfect.
    The trees sat in the meadows
    like priests in green cassocks.
    October was hiding in the weeds.
    No, ma’am, I said,
    this is the nontalking compartment.
3.  a hawk circles above the highway
    It will be disappointed if it swoops down
    on sheet iron, on gas,
    on a tape of tawdry music,
    on our narrow hearts.
4.  mont blanc
    It shines from afar, white and cautious,
    like a lantern for shadows.
5.  segesta
    On the meadow a vast temple—
    a wild animal
    open to the sky.
6.  summer
    Summer was gigantic, triumphant—
    and our little car looked lost
    on the road going to Verdun.
7.  the station in bytom
    In the underground tunnel
    cigarette butts grow,
    not daisies.
    It stinks of loneliness.
8.  retired people on a field trip
    They’re learning to walk
    on land.
9.  gulls
    Eternity doesn’t travel,
    eternity waits.
    In a fishing port
    only the gulls are chatty.
10.  the theater in taormina
    From the theater in Taormina you spot
    the snow on Etna’s peak
    and the gleaming sea.
    Which is the better actor?
11.  a black cat
    A black cat comes out to greet us
    as if to say, look at me
    and not some old Romanesque church.
    I’m alive.
12.  a romanesque church
    At the bottom of the valley
    a Romanesque church at rest:
    there’s wine in this cask.
13.  light
    Light on the walls of old houses,
    Passerby, open your eyes.
14.  at dawn
    The world’s materiality at dawn—
    and the soul’s frailty.