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Reprinted with permission from Altered State — The New Polish Poetry. Edited by Rod Mengham, Tadeusz Pióro and Piotr Szymor. Todmorden, UK: Arc Publications, 2003. Price: £10.95. This selection was chosen by Rod Mengham and John Tranter. Visit the publisher’s website.

Andrzej Niewiadomski

Poem

Retineo

She sat down, back towards me, hips hardly
tempting, yet the line of her back and calf under thigh, buttocks
vanishing in a vase and water spurting from fingertips… I know
I don’t need to be attractive any more, still, it goes on:
one admonishing with his finger and the other recumbent, propped;
all of this was about them, not him, a little
lotto of figures and the conditional mood breaking through
everywhere, the computer sensibly wanting to replace
“Somoza” with “osmosis”. Close to plants and two black
dogs, bent at almost right angles, snoozing
in both corners of the palace. It’s a day off also for those
whispering, the air is full of versions of the Russian
atomic sub accident, I prefer familiar voices
and sounds, I can hear “crayons scraping across
breadcrumbs” and arguing with the one who—in spite of the sun—
wrote of a “malarial area”. Beyond the park,
slippers raised high, a group of children
balances on a plank. And they get past the swamp,
running to the trees’ chiaroscuro. This innocent hermeticism
is like survival school. All that’s left to do is rent a boat
and row yourself breathless on the shallow pond,
passionately putting on muscle and your best face

Translated by Tadeusz Pióro.

Andrzej Nlewiadomski was born in 1965 and lives in Lublin, where he teaches Polish literature at the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University. He is an editor at Kresy, a quarterly journal of literature and criticism.

His publications include:

Panopticum i inne wiersze [Panopticon and other Poems] (Lublin: Kresy, 1992)
Niebylec [The Unbeen] (Warszawa: Przedświt, 1994)
Prewentorium (Lublin: Kresy, 1997)
Kruszywo [Aggregate] (Legnica: Biuro Literackie, 2000)

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