December by Adam Zagajewski
December, herald of destruction,
takes you on a long stroll
through the black torsos of trees
and leaves scorched in autumnís fire,
as if to say: so much then for
your secrets and your treasures,
the fervent trill of small birds,
the promises of summer months.
Your dreams have been dissected,
the blackbirdís song now has a rationale,
plantsí corpses clutter the herbarium.
Only the laboratoryís hard stone remains.
Donít listen: they may take everything away,
but they canít have your ignorance,
they canít take your mysteries, strip you
of your third homeland.
Donít listen: the holidays draw near
and frozen January, snowís white paper.
What youíve waited for is being born.
The one youíre seeking will begin to sing.
óTranslated by Clare Cavanagh
In the wind-breakerís pocket you find
a light blue ticket for the vaporetto
(il biglietto, non cedibile).
A light blue ticket, slightly larger
than a stamp from the republic of Togo,
promising a change, a journey.
Sealing-wax melts on a memory,
an almond of alpine snow thaws.
The expedition may proceed.
Youíre in Texas, on flat land,
surrounded by evergreen oaks
that remember nothing.
Youíll swim through cramped canals
upstream, in a strong wind;
youíll meet with icebergs, grayness.
The ticket says: corsa semplice,
but not a word about the desert,
the monotony of heavy seas,
about longing, or the spiteful customs man
whoís waiting, and not for you alone,
about islands of indifference and ash.
Youíll swim a long time. And may reach
the place where Venice the sea-urchin rests:
water, lace and gold.
You may reach the place where Veniceís
red towers rise, faithful towers,
the needles of a compass lost at sea.