Two poems by Julia Fiedorczuk
This is part of our feature on Poets and Power: Language of Resilience from Central and Eastern Europe
Translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston
Landscape with Little Girl
I’d like to say—to her, to both of them—
let’s lie down beneath the grass, lie in the shade
of dried-out ships, let matters of fate be left
to those plane trees, I’d like to say, look over there!—
instead though, I caress the see-through sky, the sun
has shifted, there’s a green woodpecker, let’s fall asleep
I’d like to say, from now on let us always be
a carpet, a ball of yarn, but I only stand
in a cloud of laughter and come back are the words
I end up never saying as the child, external as the world,
runs on the lawn while someone else is dying.
in the morning I go to the mists to await a soul
that’s tangled in threads of sleep sticky with dew.
Lola runs and says: I want to be stroked
here and here and here (the way dogs do) then looks
that I have to be shown so explicitly.
we make daybreak:
a huntress chases a wasp
sand crunches in the boards of a house
a wad of moments stuck to a moist eye
is flying off into the mobile continents of clouds
so quick—so quick
Julia Fiedorczuk has published five volumes of poetry, two novels, a collection of short stories and three critical books in Poland. A proponent of ecopoetics and ecocriticism, her work focuses on the relationship between humans and their non-human environments. Her first collection, Listopad nad Narwia (“November on the Narew”) was selected as best debut of the year by the Polish Association of Book Publishers. She is also the recipient of the Hubert Burda Prize for poets from Central and Eastern Europe (2005). She participated in the international project entitled Metropoetica: Poets Writing Cities. Her poetry has been translated into many languages and appeared in anthologies in the USA, UK, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Germany.
Bill Johnston’s translation of Tomasz Różycki’s mock epic poem Twelve Stations (Zephyr Press, 2015) won the 2016 Found in Translation Award. His other honors include the PEN Translation Prize and the Best Translated Book Award, both for his translation of Wiesław Myśliwski’s novel Stone Upon Stone (Archipelago Books), and a 2013 – 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship. He is Henry Remak Professor of Comparative Literature at Indiana University, where he teaches literary translation.
Photo: Julia Fiedorczuk, Private
Photo: Bill Johnston, Private
These poems from Oxygen are published by permission of Zephyr Press. Translation copyright © 2017 Bill Johnston.