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Our World

Adam Zagajewski, translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh

In memoriam W.G. Sebald

I never met him, I only knew
his books and the odd photos, as if
picked up in a secondhand shop, and human
fates found in a secondhand shop,
and a voice quietly narrating,
a gaze that took in so much,
a gaze turned back,
avoiding neither fear
nor rapture;
          and our world in his prose,
our world, so calm—but
full of crimes perfectly forgotten,
even in lovely towns
on the coast of some sea or ocean,
our world full of empty churches,
rutted with railroad tracks, scars
of ancient trenches, highways,
cleft by uncertainty, our blind world
smaller now by you.

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