260: Morning

260: Morning

260: Morning

by Adam Zagajewski

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Sunday morning, the wind has washed our minds,
the streets are bleak as a monastic regimen.
The young still sleep in their white tents,
and only the elderly head churchwards.
A gingko, still clinging to its leaves,
aglow with autumn’s yellow fire,
announces that the moment has arrived.
Sunday morning, above the roofs of palaces and houses,
somber chimes hold conversations
while little bells laugh; Dominicans
and Norbertines exchanging telegrams.
Clad in bronze, the Planty Garden monuments
doubtless long for normal skin,
for flesh and aching heads, but eternity has its demands.

We quarreled here once, do you remember,
I looked for you in the evening’s labyrinth;
I held a book, you wore a summer dress
(the book went unread, but the dress spread
like the jacket of a Neoplatonic tract).
A bronze Boy-Zelenski gazed at me, his eyes
retained the image of a firing squad,
that masterpiece of Prussian architecture.
The wind washed minds and streets, it washed the sun.
Georg Trakl died a few hundred yards away,
killed by ecstasy or despair.
And we sat on that bench late one night
and tried to hear the ocean.
The moon was full, the stars ran quietly.

The moment came, after long negotiations,
broken off and taken up, abandoned once again,
when the past, wise and dry as parchments,
decided to make peace with petty day,
with the morning’s improvisation, its damp breath,
my thoughts’ dampness, my unrest,
and a delegation of the dead — poets, but also night watchmen,
experienced students of the darkness, and midwives,
who knew how bodies opened —
agreed that it was high time,
in silence, Sunday morning, when trees
flame peacefully, agreed conditionally
that I should wake and realize that the moment had arrived,
the moment had arrived — and would be gone.

Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh

"Morning" by Adam Zagajewski, from ETERNAL ENEMIES by Adam Zagajewski, copyright © 2009 Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.