Read an Excerpt
Tell Me Why This Hurry
The lindens are blossoming the lindens have lost their blossoms and this flowery procession moves without any restraint
Where are you hurrying lilies of the valley jasmines petunias lilacs irises roses and peonies
Mondays and Tuesdays Wednesdays and Fridays nasturtiums and gladioli zinnias and lobelias yarrow dill goldenrod and grasses flowery Mays and Junes and Julys and Augusts lakes of flowers seas of flowers meadows holy fires of fern one-day grails
Tell me why this hurry where are you rushing in a cherry blizzard a deluge of greenness all with the wind racing in one direction only crowns proud yesterday today fallen into sand eternal desires passions mistresses of destruction
Why didn’t I dance on the Champs-Élysées when the crowd cheered the end of the war?
Why didn’t I throw myself into the arms of a sailor who walked down the gangway with a duffel on his arm and ran toward me through the excited crowd raging sounds of bebop
“La Marseillaise” and “God Save the Queen”
blaring from the loudspeakers?
Why didn’t I break out a bottle of champagne next to the two of them still dressed in English uniforms not guessing one day I would stand at the end of their road?
Why was I fated to be on the main street of Lublin watching regiments with red stars enter the city crying with joy I would no longer hear the hated Raus! and Halt!
but torn by sadness this was the price for a lost dream of a hero’s triumphant entry on a white horse for the return of those who twice cheated didn’t want to come back
So we stood–the ones who survived–
on the streets of Warsaw transformed into a desert and today years later find ourselves in the fading films of old newsreels hard to recognize
Go to the park in the morning before the sun’s chariot rolls to the top
You will be alone you will be a lord among the crowned heads of poplars oaks pines
Go to the park in the morning in autumn you will be ruler of the season gentle as a caress benevolent between the terror of summer and winter
Go to the park on an autumn morning
It waits for you its face hidden in shade
Translated from the Polish by John and Bogdana Carpenter.