Translated from Polish by Piotr Florczyk
they hauled sandbags night and day
to the gate, to the windows.
Facing the Germans,
our house will be a fortress, we’ll survive.
At dawn on the seventh day
a plane flew low
over the roof.
And only the sand survived.
Born in 1909 in Warsaw, Poland, Anna Swir (Świrszczyńska) is widely considered one of Poland’s most distinguished poets. Profoundly marked by World War II, especially the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, during which she volunteered as a nurse, Swir explores in her poems the joys and horrors of human nature and the female body. She died in Kraków in 1984.
Piotr Florczyk is a poet, essayist, and translator of six volumes of Polish poetry, including The World Shared: Poems by Dariusz Sośnicki (co-translated with Boris Dralyuk) and The Day He’s Gone: Poems 1990–2013 by Paweł Marcinkiewicz. He lives in Santa Monica. He is the translator of Building the Barricade: and other poems of Anna Swir.
“Only Sand Survived” ran in TLR: Women’s Studies.
More poems by Anna Swir
More by Piotr Florczyk