from Letter by Letter: “Essential Features” by Tomasz Różycki – translated by Mira Rosenthal

What else to write to you? Equally you
in the expanse outside the window—space
that never ends, but grows, expands, extends,
now most of all as I write—are infinitely
smalls things the microscope cannot perceive.
It’s always possible to crush the heart
more finely. What appears as dust can be divided
into still smaller particles the size of galaxies,
that is, with magnification. In both directions
the body is affected by opposing forces.
Dispersion, concentration. Maxi, mini.
And hence these moans. Hence all the difficulty
of syntax, style, pronunciation. How to narrate
this moment for you, in winter: sky, clouds
so low they’re within reach. And on life’s list
of preconditions, death is number one.
Tomasz Różycki is the author of ten volumes of poetry and prose. Over the last decade he has garnered almost every prize Poland has to offer as well as widespread critical acclaim, with work translated into numerous languages and frequent appearances at international festivals. In the U.S., he has been featured at the 92nd St. Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center, the Princeton Poetry Festival, the Brooklyn Book Festival, and elsewhere. His volume Colonies (translated by Mira Rosenthal) won the Northern California Book Award and was a finalist for numerous other prizes, including the International Griffin Poetry Prize and the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize. He teaches French language and literature at the University of Opole.
Poet and translator Mira Rosenthal is a past fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts and Stanford University’s Stegner Program, and her work appears regularly in such journals as Poetry, Ploughshares, Threepenny Review, Guernica, Harvard Review, New England Review, and A Public Space. Her first book of poems, The Local World, received the Wick Poetry Prize. Her honors include a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Award, a Fulbright Fellowship, a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies, and residencies at Hedgebrook and The MacDowell Colony. She teaches creative writing and contemporary literature at Cal Poly State University.