from Letter by Letter: “There Is No Answer” by Tomasz Różycki – translated by Mira Rosenthal

I wish that you were here, had been, will be.
We call this lack a life, and if it grows,
it grows in your direction, toward a nothingness,
if truth be your address and that for death
are inexplicably convergent—somewhere in eternity.
Where else can such a total wholeness dwell?
Meanwhile, the lack here comes to light:
flat broke, as always, till the first. And guests
have nothing offered them. There is no answer.
Son, they’re out of wine. There’s no one here to talk to,
and even if there were, the words would not
condense into expression. Gestures thus remain,
small nods. The body, still so shamelessly alone,
can no longer hang on in moderation—
its step betrays too much, its pulse, move, twitch,
its premature reply to every question.
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.