To celebrate Justyna Bargielska winning the prestigious Gdynia Literary Prize for the second year in a row, we are presenting three of her poems, taken from our upcoming anthology of contemporary Polish poetry Free Over Blood, translated by Katarzyna Szuster.
Justyna Bargielska- 3 poems
A coffee with an imprinter
So you’ve been nowhere? I have,
but not nowhere. It could’ve been Abkhazia,
the land of first letters, where men
lay railways at night, upwind, and then
wonder. In map cases they keep a photo of that
pink with blue pin-up girl,
other sacred pictures they set against the walls.
They throw stones at pigeons, angry
that a pigeon swings and soars, and then comes
to as if nothing happened, not afraid
that it’s not going to like itself any more.
They are shallow in skin, then deeper
in canvas and in the end that pin-up
shows up anyway, flicks off and there’s no trace.
A series of minor wounds
A girl disappears in the underpass
escaping a man who cries after her.
When my earthly life comes to an end, she thinks,
I’ll go to Italy and while away my days
squabbling with neighbours across the balcony, until then
I need to think small, I need to think: Alexandria,
a light seeped through lemon essence.
I said it once aloud on the bus.
Do they have caskets there big enough to fit
a bus and the rest of Greek lacrimosa jars? And the hawthorn
smelled beautiful. How finely do you have to crush me
to get the dye you’re after?
I had you in my spine and you were my
child. I don’t want you to kill me any more,
but remember that I’m fighting you
and when the moment comes at the zenith
to recognize longings, let me believe
you’re a drunk client who comes back the next
day to get married to an agent, because
his universe has just stopped confining him.
Thanks for tolerating that I pee so loud, that
I throw your Siamese brother half way across
the room, rummage scraps in search of
my first woman and then tell you
about it, and in return you only require
admitting that you’re better at being me
than I can ever be, you’re dark
and cheerful like a gooseberry bush, beneath which
I hide from the vicious dogs.
translated by Katarzyna Szuster
Justyna Bargielska (born 1977) – poet, prose writer. Winner of the 2010 and the 2011 Gdynia Literary Prize. Her poetry collections include Dating Sessions (2003), China Shipping (2005) and Dwa fiaty (2009) and the prose volume Obsoletki (2010). She lives in Warsaw.
Justyna Bargielska (ur. 1977) – poetka, prozaiczka. Laureatka Nagrody Literackiej Gdynia w roku 2010 i 2011. Wydała tomy wierszy Dating Sessions (2003), China Shipping (2005) i Dwa fiaty (2009) oraz tom prozy Obsoletki (2010). Mieszka w Warszawie.