Sweat rash like semolina. The yellowed mattress
with the satin imprint left by a weightless shadow,
the rotting vegetable patch where Marta
finds a stranger’s hand under her dress and — oh — August
snaps like a dry twig. Nylon, grey paper in the ditches
of dill, lower down the white stump of an arm, such a shiver,
and the word knickers fading in his mouth, a small black cherry.
How many fires raged through this shed is anyone’s guess
(gestures so quick darkness and hunger fail
to keep pace). Their reflection in the well whirled
long after they got home and before the mirrors
pried into their new places.
~ Agnieszka Wolny-Hamkało, trans. from Polish by Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese
Agnieszka Wolny-Hamkało is an award-winning poet with eight volumes to her name; she also writes novels, journalism and books for children. She is also known for her performance readings and her promotion of women’s writing in Poland.
Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese writes between English, Polish and Danish. Her books include: ‘Nothing More’, a selection from Krystyna Miłobędzka (2013); ‘Salt Monody’, versions of Marzanna Kielar (2006); ‘Cognitive Poetic Readings in Elizabeth Bishop: Portrait of a Mind Thinking’ (2010). She co-edited ‘Carnivorous Boy Carnivorous Bird: Poetry from Poland’ (2004) and co-wrote ‘Metropoetica. Poetry and Urban Space: Women Writing Cities’ (2013).