A Conversation Through the Door
At five in the morning
I knock on his door.
I say through the door:
in the hospital at Sliska Street
your son, a soldier, is dying.
He half-opens the door,
does not remove the chain.
Behind him his wife
I say: your son asks his mother
He says: the mother won't come.
Behind him the wife
I say: the doctor allowed us
to give him wine.
He says: please wait.
He hands me a bottle through the door,
locks the door,
locks the door with a second key.
Behind the door the wife
begins to scream as if she were in labor.
Polish; trans. Czeslaw Milosz
& Leonard Nathan
Anna Swir, Polish, trans. Czeslaw Milosz & Leonard
Nathan, Happy as a Dog's Tail, Harcourt, 1985.