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Przekrój
“In its crater, instead of magma, / the green chill of a lake.” A poem by a contemporary Polish ...
2020-08-19 09:00:00
deep soundings
Isle of Two Volcanoes

They rise straight from the water,
barely joined by an isthmus.
An active volcano and a dormant one—
the first emits sulfur,
and roots bind clay and stone
on the second.
The dormant peers at the active
through openings in the forest.
The active gazes at the dormant
from its leafless, ashy slope.
That slanting waft of steam
above its perfect cone—
a quiet threat—
disrupts the symmetry,
though sometimes underscores it,
settling a cloud on the summit
like a lens.
The dormant one’s shapeless.
In its crater, instead of magma,
the green chill of a lake.
Above its surface
pink-headed vultures whirl
to catch air currents,
which let them
swoop down on carrion
with greater force.
Gangs of howler monkeys
warn from the trees:
this is our territory.
Ants, snakes, and spiders
thrive in the humid dark,
a frog touched with a twig
plays dead, and a glass-winged
butterfly lights on a fern.
You can look through him
like a window.

On this isle two volcanoes
rise from the water,
sentenced to be together.
The road, rutted and overgrown,
snares them like a lasso.
 

Translated from the Polish by Karen Kovacik

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Published:

Krystyna Dąbrowska

was born in 1979. She is a poet, translator and essayist. She graduated from Graphic Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. She has published four books of poetry. The most recent one is “Ścieżki dźwiękowe” [Soundtracks]. She has received the Kościelski Award (2013), the Wisława Szymborska Award (2013) and the Literary Award of the Capital City of Warsaw (2019). She lives and works in Warsaw.