the end and the beginning

The End and the Beginning
by Wisława Szymborska
Translated By Joanna Trzeciak

After every war
someone has to clean up.
Things won’t
straighten themselves up, after all.

Someone has to push the rubble
to the side of the road,
so the corpse-filled wagons
can pass.

Someone has to get mired
in scum and ashes,
sofa springs,
splintered glass,
and bloody rags.

Someone has to drag in a girder
to prop up a wall.
Someone has to glaze a window,
rehang a door.

Photogenic it’s not,
and takes years.
All the cameras have left
for another war.

We’ll need the bridges back,
and new railway stations.
Sleeves will go ragged
from rolling them up.

Someone, broom in hand,
still recalls the way it was.
Someone else listens
and nods with unsevered head.
But already there are those nearby
starting to mill about
who will find it dull.

From out of the bushes
sometimes someone still unearths
rusted-out arguments
and carries them to the garbage pile.

Those who knew
what was going on here
must make way for
those who know little.
And less than little.
And finally as little as nothing.

In the grass that has overgrown
causes and effects,
someone must be stretched out
blade of grass in his mouth
gazing at the clouds.

image: the beauty we love
poem: the mark on the wall



J Cosmo Newbery said...

Should be the politicians who do the cleanup.

red dirt girl said...

I second that recommendation!

gz said...

but would you trust them?

red dirt girl said...

Good point, gz ... not for a second! Those politicians would be looking for an expedient rug to sweep it all under; then gather around the water bucket and plot their next war...

soubriquet said...

And I was just commenting over at britishspeak about the clear-up of mines in the Falkland islands, from that little war in the early 1980s.

The nice thing about that is that the islanders have called for the mine-clearing resources to be used in places like Afghanistan and Cambodia instead. They point out that they can avoid the minefields, but children are blown-up every day in other countries.
Besides. The minefields are a haven for penguins.

SL said...

What a great poem!

goatman said...

Or if firebombed Dresden were left in its burned defeated state with the smell of death gone but the bones still visible and the bricks still blackened and the water still stinking in the wells, maybe those that think war is a solution could drift around the hatred and be warned and be corrected.

Adullamite said...

Good that.

red dirt girl said...

Glad you enjoyed !!

red dirt girl said...

If only that were true, goatman. My fear is that we've all become somewhat 'immune' to the images of war - unless we were forced to walk those streets ... and even then, how long would the impact last ?? Long enough to change politicians minds / positions??


red dirt girl said...

thank you, Adullamite!