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.