(after movie by A.Tarkovsky)
by Jacek Kaczmarski
transl. by Jadwiga Smulko and Ryszard P. Kostecki
Who of us has never travelled by a drowning wreck?
Who amongst us dares to contradict he is flawed?
Who of us has never been by a blinded bird misled?
Who has never been led into wasteland by a stray dog?
And yet, we are enthralled by the fenced area
And it is excluded for a purpose, we want to believe
It's not us within it – it's us without the Zone
It is for us to pace it, with our own gait, be it unfirm
Until all hope, defeated by bitterness, is out - gone.
Thus, in spite of wires, guards' posts and watchtowers
We long to go where going is forbidden
To possess useless, ridiculous mysteries
If only we could burn with passion fever once again
Before a sudden blast flicks off the back of the head
The way might be roundabout and misleading,
Our guide might be a swindler, who craves to make a dime,
But better this, than death on ramparts calcifying
At the invisible borders and trenches, where yawns
A soldier, whose resemblance to a convict is without denying
The path leads through the inundated glens of ages gone,
Under the shallow waters – illegible argot of times past
A trail over the rifles, the manuscripts and icons
Above which the paddle draws an Apocalyptic splash
The wail is not for us, nor the ancestors – but for sons.
Is then the truth for us to find – an empty room
With switched-off phones, that suddenly start to ring?
The dearest blood, that slowly flows in lifeless brook,
A forceless wrath against the Firmament, unheeding,
And the spell of words to save from bad bewitchments' hook?
Is then the truth for us to find – a table of stone,
From which the object of the prayers fell, untouched by hand?
In transport's wheels clatter – Beethoven's aria?
Bottomless abyss, and – above it, suspended –
Our own face, that watches itself in spaces
Of the drowning – whom fortune did not send a raft?
Of the flawed – whom it had ever failed to heal?
When the blinded bird has finally found the right track
And the stray dog has at last sat at the doorsill.