Atthinam nagaram katam mamsalohitalepanam
yattha jara ca maccu ca mano makkho ca ohito
a city of flesh and blood, bones and sinew
moves within the city of stone
now very big now very small
—enormous when on urgent business you need to rush
across the vast expanse from Kurdwanów to Widok
or from Borek to Stogi, from one outstretched
hand to another. all the bridges are jammed.
says a cheerful voice on the radio, completely jammed,
yep, all the way to the cemetery.
—tiny when passing another day pondering, pacing
the pavement on the Grodzka-Floriańska axis
the world outside the Ring doesn’t count
the atoms outside this blood don’t count,
the ones inside still count—and won’t add up
you have to throw them some clever little molecules
but the Dealer will take care of this. the point
(in the split between St. Florian
squinting from above, and the Hamburgers below)
when you give up even trotting around.
this is where the city is smallest. it shrinks to a point.
and the largest. blood scatters over the galaxies
this city is very small. just a few villas
with a good view—even the neighbors (also
Salwator, but nearer the end of the line) are below
to say nothing of the rest. it is very large.
from the well-lit tram stop some seven
mountain ranges and seven canyons between blocks
luckily the Kazimierzowskis with bats, the Golden Agers
with knuckles, the Enlightenmenters with blades,
the Piasts with butterfly knives and the Heroes of September
using nothing but boots like true sportsmen—haven’t
yet spotted you. you can count yourself lucky
and sing heaven’s praises. because the city is very musical.
* * *
the city of bones and blood tosses and turns in an anxious dream
the city of stone, small as an egg, lies in the foliage
(as the poet from Lithuania put it—actually he lived on Bogusławskiego Street)
under the envious brother’s taller tower—and under the shorter, that of the murdered one,
instead of cabbies, the frozen booming of the Jaszczury club,
the late street cleaning truck wades through the huge quicksand mirror, the Marketplace
through Szeroka, Rynek Dębnicki, Rynek Podgórski, Plac Centralny,
through neighborhood squares with nasturtiums and carrots
through the alleys of the torso, lanes of fingers, the pavement of this poem—
This city is built up of bones, plastered with flesh and blood; within it are decay
and death, pride and jealousy. Or something in this vein, equally unconstructive.