They didn’t live together, which meant
they had two fridges for their growing collection
of magnets. The prettiest lived on his.
Twin face of a woman: the moon part
looking at us, half-hidden behind the sun.
Playful battles ensued over that magnet,
his favorite: she stole it on the sly,
he grabbed her by the hand
to return that temporary plunder
to its central place
on the pantheon of the fridge.
Now, a half-year since their breakup,
they meet up in her courtyard
to exchange keys and books,
the first she’s seen him since that time.
Will he finally explain? “You look nice in that jacket.”
At home, like a robot, she hangs up the keys,
retrieves her books from the paper bag.
At the very bottom, she finds the magnet.
Stanisław Barańczak divided poets into two categories: ‘framers’ and ‘extenders’. An extender is one who throughout her entire life writes a single long poem in fragments. Her poems tend not to have titles to underscore the open-ended nature of the whole project. A framer, by contrast, titles her texts, treating every poem like a distinct entity. I consider myself a framer. But here I resolved to adopt more of an extender’s way of writing – part of a series of poems about the story of two people and the end of their relationship. It’s possible to read “Magnet” as a separate poem, but it’s also part of an extended cycle on the same theme.
Translated from the Polish by Karen Kovacik
A high five for “Przekrój”? Or maybe a ten? By supporting PRZEKRÓJ Foundation, you support humour, reliability and charm.
Choose your donation