translated from Polish by Artur Sebastian Rosman
(part I – left panel)
Early morning (not rosy-fingered dawn) they sleep
still in the tent. I step out
onto a narrow path above a plate-glass
lake, take in the scent, wet flesh,
of fresh-cut wood; springing
on loose boards, I sound out empty
knocks over deepening waters.
At dock’s end, I turn and sit – the wood road back,
ties without rails, hammered into
the beach at the high bank’s breach;
behind me (memory or fancy?) blue sky
reflecting in a greenish mirror, and a forest wall.
Shreds of fog flock like sheep
grazing on water
on either side of the bridge,
of which I (time to get back) am a pillar.
(part II – right panel)
The sun blinds between clouds, stings skin,
hints at a storm. A pale noon shadow rounds
me tightly, every step in clandestine
focus. The grass invites me to a warm
bed, but I am on guard. Ahead
she lizard darts. She spurts toward
the pier end, stops shutter-snap short,
spins back, poses by the life
preserver, the white ring tangled
with green rope, stock still staring at a sloop
that points to the opposite shore, waiting
until, without warning, she flies off
at top speed, then brakes mid-dock, kneels
and gingerly (Careful!) lies down along the edge.
Her hectic cheek nestled in her mother’s scent
of pine. She stretches her hand and
doesn’t reach, scoots forward, then leans
(Save her now?), and, at last, touches
the surface. I reveal myself, waving,
walking over this bridge,
this corridor of her house.
As I settle next to her, she lets me watch:
on one side the sun blazes, the other darkening clouds –
between, her fingertips disturb the image in the mirror.
(part III – central panel)
At the end of a long pier,
a blue man in a red cap
sits, staring at the copper-gold
stripe on the water. His long pole,
thin as a crack, points at the orange
circle stuck on the horizon. His line
is invisible, but, certainly, linking
him to the lake’s interior.
Left, his thin shadow printed
on the boards; foreground right,
his foreshortened image shimmers,
a picture by unsteady, unstudied hands.
From the shore, I see clearly
all three persons, this evening communion.
They, for sure, will soon begin
to disappear: first the sharp
shadow, next the elusive
reflection, finally that solid
I can call: Grandpa!
And he will come.
Artur Grabowski was born in Krakow, Poland. Poet, playwright, prose and essay author, dramaturge and scholar. He studied Polish and comparative literature and philosophy at the Jagiellonian University, Krakow (PhD) where he is currently associate professor, teaching modern Polish and comparative literature, theatre and creative writing. As a Kosciuszko Foundation visiting professor he taught at the University of Illinois in Chicago and SUNY in Buffalo, then as a Fulbright scholar at the University of Washington, Seattle. In 2015/16 prof. Grabowski spend four months at JNU, New Delhi, as a European Commission scholar doing research on Indian theatre. He also translates poetry from English and Italian.
Artur Sebastian Rosman is the managing editor of University of Notre Dame’s Church Life Journal. He formerly wrote about religion and the arts at the widely read Cosmos the in Lost blog. His published work includes six book translations (most recently Tischner’s The Philosophy of Drama) and essays in periodicals such as The Review of Metaphysics, IMAGE Journal, the Journal of Religion and Literature, The Merton Annnual, and Znak.