[from Adam Zagajewski's Eternal Enemies, translated by Clare Cavanagh, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2008]
I would have liked to live among the Greeks,
talk with Sophocles' disciples,
learn the rites of secret mysteries,
but when I was born the pockmarked
Georgian still lived and reigned,
with his grim henchmen and theories.
Those were years of memory and grief,
of sober talks and silence;
there was little joy --
although a few birds didn't know this,
a few children and trees.
To wit, the apple tree on our street
blithely opened its white blooms
each April and burst
into ecstatic laughter.
Eternal Enemies: Poems