11 September 2006

"Photograph From September 11"


Photograph from September 11
by Wislawa Szymborska

They jumped from the burning floors—
one, two, a few more,
higher, lower.

The photograph halted them in life,
and now keeps them
above the earth toward the earth.

Each is still complete,
with a particular face
and blood well hidden.

There’s enough time
for hair to come loose,
for keys and coins
to fall from pockets.

They’re still within the air’s reach,
within the compass of places
that have just now opened.

I can do only two things for them—
describe this flight
and not add a last line.

[Translated by Clare Kavanagh and Stanisław Barańczak from
Wislawa Szymborska, Monologue of a Dog. (Harcourt, 2005). ]

The gang over at 3 Quarks Daily has posted a whole set of extremely thoughtful ruminations on the anniversary. One links to this essay by Tom Jund; I thought that Szymborska's poem would provide a nice complement to his reflections. No last lines ...

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