The Well

By TADEUSZ DĄBROWSKI

Translated by ANTONIA LLOYD-JONES

 

A night train glides like a bobsleigh down the gutter of winter,
down a valley wreathed in the amber glow of sleep,
a nameless little town, where I first
touched the breasts of A., not entirely certain
if that could make her pregnant. December, the late
nineteen-nineties. On a marketplace speckled
with little Christmas lights, in a haze of hot mulled wine,
with pockets full of started poems, which
discreetly didn’t ask about the future or for meaning,
we felt as if inside a music box. The world
was not yet governed by a god with many faces. Touch
guaranteed existence. The night train rubs cat-like
against the glow of the little town, too hurriedly,
like me in the late nineteen-nineties against her
full and pale breasts. I’m gazing at the glow and feeling
nothing. I enter a tunnel. I dream that I’m shouting
down a well: Are you still there? Then I hear: Are you
still there? I am—I say. Then I hear: I am.

 

Tadeusz Dąbrowski – (b. 1979) Poet, essayist, critic. Editor of the literary bimonthly Topos. He has been published in many journals in Poland (among others:Tygodnik Powszechny, Gazeta Wyborcza, Polityka, Twórczość, Odra, Zeszyty Literackie, Chimera, Res Publica Nowa) and abroad (Boston Review, Agni, American Poetry Review, Tin House, Little Star Weekly, Harvard Review, Crazyhorse, Poetry Daily, Guernica, Poetry Review, Poetry London, The Reader, Shearsman, Poetry Ireland, Poetry Wales, Seam, Other Poetry, Salzburg Poetry Review, Akzente, Sprache im technischen Zeitalter, EDIT, Ostragehege, manuskripte, Lichtungen). Recipient of stipends awarded by the Omi international Arts Center (NY, 2013), the Vermont Studio Center (2011), Literatur Lana (2011), Internationales Haus der Autoren Graz (2008), Polish Minister of Culture (2007, 2010), Literarisches Colloquium Berlin (2006, 2012), and the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators (Visby, 2004, 2010). Winner of numerous awards, among others, the Kościelski Prize (2009), the Hubert Burda Prize (2008) and, from Tadeusz Różewicz, the Prize of the Foundation for Polish Culture (2006). He has been nominated for NIKE, the most important Polish literary award (2010). His work has been translated into 20 languages. Editor of the anthology Poza słowa. Antologia wierszy 1976–2006 (2006). Author of eight volumes of poetry: Wypieki(1999), e-mail (2000), mazurek (2002), Te Deum (2005, 2008), Czarny kwadrat(2009), Schwarzes Quadrat auf schwarzem Grund (Germany, 2010, 2011), andPomiędzy (2013). A collection of his poetry in English entitled Black Square (2011) was released by Zephyr Press. He lives in Gdańsk on the Baltic coast of Poland.

Antonia Lloyd-Jones is a full-time translator of Polish literature, and twice winner of the Found in Translation award. Her publications include fiction by Paweł Huelle, poetry by Tadeusz Dąbrowski, reportage by Wojciech Jagielski, and children’s books. She is a mentor for the British Centre for Literary Translation’s mentorship program.

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The Well

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