Tuesday, August 5, 2014

How High the Moon by Adam Zagajewski

How High the Moon

Of course, there were
the family trips in summer,
picnics by the black canal

(named earlier for Adolph Hitler)
where crabs still lived;
on its banks the pines were gaunt and stunted.

Sometimes—rarely—barges holding coal,
like charcoal for a Sunday painter,
sailed due west.

The heat wave changed clothes like an opera star:
sky-blue, rosy, scarlet,
finally white, transparent.

My uncle supervised
our outings: he loved life
(but it wasn’t mutual)

If anyone told me then
that this was childhood,
I would have said no;

it was just hours and days,
endless hours,
the sweet days of June

on the banks of a canal
that never rushed,
drenched in damp dreams,

and the meek young moon
setting out alone
to vanquish night.

(Translated by Clare Cavanagh)

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