Reality, what can we do with it? Where is it in words?

Just as it flickers, it vanishes. Innumerable lives

unremembered. Cities on maps only,

without that face in the window, on the first door, by the market,

without those two in the bushes near the gas plant.

Returning seasons, mountain snows, oceans

& the blue ball of the earth rotates,

but silent are they who ran through the artillery fire,

who clung to a lump of clay for protection,

& those deported from their homes at dawn

& those who have crawled out from under a pile of bodies

while here, I, an instructor in forgetting,

teach that pain passes (for its the pain of others),

still in my mind trying to save miss Jadvyga,

a little hunchback, a librarian by profession,

who perished in the shelter of an apartment house

that was considered safe but toppled down

& no one was able to dig through the slabs of wall,

though knocking & voices were heard for many days.

So a name is lost for ages, forever,

no one will ever know about her last hours

time carries her in the layers of pliocene.

The true enemy of man is generalization,

the true enemy of man, so-called history,

attracts & terrifies with its plural number.

Don’t believe it. Cunning & treacherous

history is not, as Marx told us, anti-nature,

& if a goddess, a goddess of blind faith.

The little skeleton of miss Jadvyga, the spot

where her heart was pulsating. This only

I set against necessity, law, theory.

Czeslaw Milosz