ABC

By Wisława Szymborska
Translated from the Polish by Joanna Trzeciak

I’ll never find out, what A. thought of me.
Whether B. ever finally forgave me.
Why C. pretended it was all okay.
What was D.’s part in E.’s silence.
What F. expected, if anything.
Why G. pretended, though she knew full well.
What H. had to hide.
What I. wanted to add.
Whether my being there
mattered in any way
for J. or K. or the rest of the alphabet.


Joanna Trzeciak is Associate Professor of Russian and Translation Studies at Kent State University. Her research concerns Nabokov as a self-translating author. Her translations of Polish and Russian literature have appeared in The New York TimesThe New YorkerTimes Literary SupplementHarper’sThe AtlanticParis ReviewField, and New Ohio Review, among others. Miracle Fair: Selected Poems of Wisława Szymborska (W.W. Norton, 2001), was awarded the Heldt Translation Prize. Sobbing Superpower: Selected Poems of Tadeusz Różewicz (W.W. Norton, 2011) was shortlisted for the Griffin Prize, and is the winner of the Found in Translation Award and the AATSEEL Award for Best Scholarly Translation.

Originally appeared in NOR 5

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