Audio: Hear Adam Zagajewski read this poem. (1:10)
Hear the poem read in the original Polish. (0:55)
The tram rumbled past red houses.
The wheels in mining towers whirled
like carousels in fairgrounds.
Roses dimmed by soot grew in the gardens,
wasps raged in pastry shops
above cakes strewn with crumbs.
I was fifteen, the tram moved
quicker between the housing projects,
in the meadows I spotted marsh marigolds.
I thought that at the last stop
the meaning of it all would stand revealed,
but nothing happened, nothing,
the driver ate a roll with cheese,
two old women talked quietly
about prices and diseases.
Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh