"3 Arkonska Street"
Mrs. Mazonska was our neighbor from the first floor
at 3 Arkonska Street (Pszoniak lived next door,
Różewicz on the corner of Zygmunt and Słowacki).
She had dyed red hair and gold on her fingers.
Her husband, a tall, thin professor at the Polytechnic,
gave me an album full of stamps,
with a green Congo, a sky-blue France,
and a few pinkish brown Second Republics.
Mrs. Mazonska invited me sometimes
for tea and treated me like a grown-up,
with serious, straightforward conversation.
But I wasn't really grown-up.
I didn't know who I was—
in the mirror I saw only eyes
that didn't look at me.
Chestnuts fell from the trees, shining and pure.
Beyond the window, in the grass, in the microscopic garden,
quizzical starlings hopped.
In the church tower, and the town hall tower, on the walls
of our apartments, in flat wristwatches,
time worked relentlessly;
it was ubiquitous—the secret police
was no match for it,
even thought couldn't keep up.
Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh.
Adam Zagajewski was born in Lvov, Poland, in 1945. His most recent book is Eternal Enemies.
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