It’s good that you’re not here. You’d be surprised
how things have gone. How we have coped despite
the difficult conditions—after all, the river
freezes in winter, in summer runs dry. We’re trying

each of the variations on ourselves,
tasting each plant that sprouts up in the yard—
we should be dead already. But this jealousy
is a thorn in the side—despite the fact that you’re

not here, we’ve made a lot of progress in the art
of fashioning your phantom, and we’re good at it,
through power failures and the animals
who come to howl at the planet. In a certain way

it’s good that you’re not here. Your singularity
would grow immense—since each of us still carries
a hole for you inside our hearts, so we just multiply
and gaze at the sky, at the void above the high-rise.

Tomasz Różycki

Tomasz Różycki’s most recent collection, Letter by Letter (in which this poem appears), was a finalist for the prestigious Wisława Szymborska Prize. His work has been translated into numerous languages and anthologized widely. Over the last decade, he has garnered almost every prize Poland has to offer, as well as widespread critical acclaim internationally. Mira Rosenthal’s translation of his volume Colonies 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. In 2018 he was a DAAD Artist-in-Residence in Berlin. He teaches at Opole University.

Mira Rosenthal

Mira Rosenthal, a past fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts and Stanford University’s Stegner Fellowship, publishes poetry and translations regularly in such journals as Ploughshares, The Threepenny Review, Poetry, The Harvard Review, The New England Review, A Public Space, and The Oxford American. 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, and a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies. She teaches in Cal Poly’s creative writing program.