Home > Poetry > “I scanned my photograph . . .”
Translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
Published: Wed Jul 1 2009
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
“I scanned my photograph . . .”

Translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones


I scanned my photograph from the first year
at primary school: crookedly cut fringe, chubby
little cheeks, a slightly bitten lip,

frighteningly trusting eyes. Gradually I move
the contrast bar, and out of the milky nothingness emerges
a shape that becomes real half way

down the scale, then sinks into the background again. Happy
is he who dies in this way. And now I’m looking in the mirror
and I have to agree to a few wrinkles that

weren’t there not long ago (could they ever
have not been there?). So that’s me, me again, all me,
including the acne scar, the hole in my tooth, and

one day, perhaps, the hole where a tooth once was. Too much
of that me for me to take in, accept as my own.
Bearing in mind that we are only at the body.


Tadeusz Dąbrowski (b. 1979) is a Polish poet, essayist, and critic who has won, among other honors, the Hubert Burda Prize (2008) and, from Tadeusz Różewicz, the Prize of the Foundation for Polish Culture (2006). His first collection to appear in English will soon be released by Zephyr Press. He lives in Gdańsk. (5/2009)

Antonia Lloyd-Jones is a freelance editor and translator whose most recently published translation from Polish is Castorp, a novel by Paweł Huelle (Serpent’s Tail, 2007), longlisted for the 2008 Independent Foreign Fiction Award. Her translations of Polish poetry have appeared in The Edinburgh Review and elsewhere. (5/2009)

Tadeusz Dąbrowski (b. 1979) is a Polish poet, essayist, and critic, editor of the literary bimonthly Topos, art director of the European Poet of Freedom Festival, and author of seven volumes of poetry, most recently Srodek wyrazu (2016). He has been published in many journals in his native country (among others, Tygodnik Powszechny and Polityka). His work has been translated into twenty languages; in English, it has appeared in The New YorkerThe American Poetry ReviewLittle StarGuernicaPoetry DailyBoston ReviewPoetry IrelandAGNI, and Poetry Wales. He is the winner of numerous awards, including the Kościelski Prize (2009), the Hubert Burda Prize (2008), and the Prize of the Foundation for Polish Culture (2006), and was nominated for the NIKE Literary Award (2010). Dąbrowski’s other collections include*: Wypieki(1999), e-mail (2000), *mazurek (2002)Te Deum (2005, 2008), Czarny kwadrat(2009), Pomiędzy (2013), and Schwarzes Quadrat auf schwarzem Grund (2010, 2011), as well as a collection of poetry in English entitled Black Square (Zephyr Press, 2011). He is editor of the anthology* Poza slowa*: Antologia wierszy 1976–2006 (2006). His second collection to be released in the U.S., Posts, is forthcoming from Zephyr Press in 2018. He lives in Gdańsk on the Baltic coast of Poland. (updated 10/2017)

Antonia Lloyd-Jones translates contemporary Polish fiction, reportage, poetry, essays, and children’s books. Her poetry translations include two collections by Tadeusz Dąbrowski—Black Square (Zephyr Press, 2013) and Posts (Zephyr, forthcoming 2018)—one by Łukasz Jarosz, The Force of Things (Liberodiscrivere, 2015), and many poems by Krystyna Dąbrowska, published in magazines such as *Harper’s *and Ploughshares. (updated 10/2017)
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