The Manhattan Review
The Manhattan Review
Established 1980

Archive > Vol. 15 no. 1


Julie Hartwig


Translated from the Polish by John and Bogdana Carpenter


Before me I have the printed map of a city
that captivated me
a beautiful city

How startling the plan in its nakedness
It shouts names of streets
like headlines in tabloid newspapers
thrust at anyone

But these names hide a secret
In the names
I can hear the rhythm of my steps on sidewalks
names of bridges looking at the river with my eyes

This map is a great lie
It tries to convince me everything stands intact
because it keeps its names

I hate this map
It is like the story of a deaf-mute
bones sucked dry by time
from which the flesh has fallen off

It is like a woman
spread out on a huge bed
hanging in the clouds
like an insult hurled at the past

One could destroy it tear it up
but then it would begin to bleed