three poems by Kinga Piotrowiak-Junkiert

Translated by Mark Tardi

Kinga Piotrowiak-Junkiert (b. 1982) is a poet, researcher, translator and editor. She lectures on Hungarian literature at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań and is the author of the monograph Świadomość zwrócona przeciwko sobie samej. Imre Kertész wobec Zagłady [Consciousness turned against itself: Imre Kertész on the Holocaust] (Warsaw, 2014). Her other publications include books on Imre Kertész, Géza Röhrig, and Zoltán Halasi. Her debut poetry collection Pieśni Myrmidonu [Songs of myrmidon] (Łódź: Dom Literatury) was published in 2019. She runs the blog and the project Gdzie się podziały poetki? Tu są! [Where did the women poets go? Here they are!] and lives in Poznań.


an hour after the funeral uncle janek and I got under your table
(someone lost a button) the bone figurine rolled over the carpet
all the way under the old desk aunts built pyramids of purses
loden coats coagulated on armchairs like stuffed walruses from a viennese
lay your hand flat look carefully finally it’s found
a dust ball ash specks
he remembered your voice flawlessly repeated the whistle of the lung the hum
_____of cut ribs
absorbed all the syllables disappeared when touched
it’s been so many holidays without you I still avoid this place when I vacuum

mayflies. euphoniums

we caught them in sticky seasons
they fell to the bottom of the muddy kingdoms
where light reaches less often than a child’s hand
the trail ended just above the water there the flight stopped
the current silently floated them and time turned them back
in the damned orchards the great-grandmothers leaned
over the withering rue cutting it hastily
go ahead close your eyes that’s who you are
the swallowing of life a slippery thread of blood

Fur. Fire

nothing to fear

in how many boxes cartons jars
in how many basements & in how many attics
they sowed nightshade to grow silence

a pregnant critter squeezes thru the crack
passes by crude letters carved on the wall
iggy brings kids’ teddies to the mice
they’re lining the litter in sawdust with a dead ear in their teeth

the mice dream of the girls from these cellars
inexpressible faces without lips body cavities sewn together
the reed dries the bottom of the basket stiffens
arch your back weave the syllables tightly
let not a single name crack in the mouth
let the river smash them safely against the shore

they fled without payment a tail trail
running towards the equator that failed to equate


Mark Tardi is a writer, translator, and lecturer on faculty at the University of Łódź. He is the author of three books, most recently, The Circus of Trust (Dalkey Archive, 2017). Recent work and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in Denver Quarterly, Berlin Quarterly, Salt Hill, La Piccioletta Barca, Notre Dame Review, Asymptote, Anomaly, and Periodicities. His translation of The Squatters’ Gift by Robert Rybicki is forthcoming from Dalkey Archive Press in 2021.

Back to Issue: Spring 2021