Translated from Polish by David Malcolm
In the train
By the embankment the grass was burning. The train whistled
scaring from the ditches confused birds.
A drunk man, laughing, told
a friend how when his wife’s away
he bullies his nine-year-old son.
The other listened focused, didn’t say a word.
He nodded. Ate dried nuts. The sinews
holding up his jaw tensed on his neck,
stretching the sweaty skin. When the conductor
came, they looked for their tickets a long time. At the next
station someone gave up a seat for an old lady.
I remember her surprised expression and suddenly
beaming face when she sits tired,
with an effort laying on her knees,
tied with a string, a torn plastic bag.