Poetry Reading

      by Anna Swir

I’m curled into a ball
like a dog
that is cold.

Who will tell me
why I was born,
why this monstrosity
called life.

The telephone rings. I have to give
a poetry reading.

I enter.
A hundred people, a hundred pairs of eyes.
They look, they wait.
I know what for.

I’m supposed to tell them
why they were born,
why there is
this monstrosity called life.


Translated by Czesław Miłosz and Leonard Nathan. From Talking to My Body by Anna Swir, Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press, 1996, page 104. The poem also appears in Building the Barricade and Other Poems of Anna Swir by Anna Swir, in a different translation by Piotr Florezyk, Philadelphia: Calypso Editions, 2011, page 47.