“The radio broadcasts news every hour/ the news anchors know 
everything: impossible/ it seems, that every single hour/ you may kill/ 
steal, cheat. And still/ this is how it is… (Adam Zagajewski)

Once again a new era is being promised. Here 
It lies already in a fetal position. Close to be born. 
It is said: this is a new world. But this is the history of its future; 

Somewhere at some point in time 
Documents and papers will be demanded. 
Possibly by a reception clerk in a government office 
Or a security control officer at an airport, but 
In every period somewhere in the world 
A gendarme at a border pass might demand documents. 

That is: somewhere in the world a passport will be forged. 

And sometimes an army will invade a city. Be its name 
Prague or Baghdad or 
New York. Every name is possible. 
Many things will happen under cover of the night. 
Knocks on the door. 
An arbitrary arrest. 
Tearing a father from his daughter’s arms. 
His disappearance. 

Many things will happen in open daylight.

In the town’s marketplace and in the stock market commerce will continue 
as usual. 
The pogrom too. 

Soon the mob will join: 
Hate speech graffiti sprayed against this or that minority 
For this or that reason. There will be a demand 
To bar entrance to a continent or a state 
Or to the grocery store. 
At its entrance a dog will wait for its owner. 
Somebody will leave behind books and photographs, 
An old bed cover, a luxurious recliner of happiness. 
And a beloved. 
But will not forget to pick along a coat, 
With pockets. As long as he leaves in time 
With his face. And with some cash. 
Many will flee by foot. 
Someone will flee by train. 

There is no runaway without a chaser. 
There is no shelter without a storm, 
The world is a rifle butt. 
The night – blinking lights of police cars. 

At least one person – maybe even you? – will go astray 
On the roads, praying that there will be an end. Here, look, 
He leans on the railing of the dark; 
And boats pass by down the river 
And cars on the bridge 
Take him in 
For a flash of a second. 
He jumps. 
Or stays. But succeeds to disappear 
Like the landscape in the window. 

Maybe that’s your window? 

From the volume The History of Future (2010)


1 Translated from David Weinfeld’s Hebrew translation of the Polish original that is quoted by the poet here. GHR