Tierra del Fuego

Translated by Clare Cavanagh
You who see our homes at night
and the frail walls of our conscience,   
you who hear our conversations   
droning on like sewing machines   
—save me, tear me from sleep,   
from amnesia.

Why is childhood—oh, tinfoil treasures,

oh, the rustling of lead, lovely and foreboding—   
our only origin, our only longing?
Why is manhood, which takes the place of ripeness,   
an endless highway,
Sahara yellow?

After all, you know there are days   
when even thirst runs dry   
and prayer’s lips harden.

Sometimes the sun’s coin dims   
and life shrinks so small
that you could tuck it
in the blue gloves of the Gypsy   
who predicts the future
for seven generations back

and then in some other little town   
in the south a charlatan
decides to destroy you,
me, and himself.

You who see the whites of our eyes,   
you who hide like a bullfinch
in the rowans,
like a falcon
in the clouds’ warm stockings

—open the boxes full of song,
open the blood that pulses in aortas   
of animals and stones,
light lanterns in black gardens.

Nameless, unseen, silent,   
save me from anesthesia,   
take me to Tierra del Fuego,   
take me where the rivers
flow straight up, horizontal rivers   
flowing up and down.

Adam Zagajewski, “Tierra del Fuego,” translated by Clare Cavanagh, from Without End: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2002 by Adam Zagajewski. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC, http://us.macmillan.com/fsg. All rights reserved.
Source: Mysticism for Beginners (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1997)
More Poems by Adam Zagajewski