Marcin Świetlicki, “Tuesday, March”

for pierozek – happy birthday

Tuesday, March (trans. Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese)
Marcin Świetlicki

we’ll be lovers, in a peeling house
at the crossroads, we’ll cross with each other,
peeling, right through

mattress? sure, a mattress, only the mattress,
and ashtray? an ashtray, two
cups and mugs, a kettle, a plate, two,
and music? music, music without end

slowly the layers, more and more layers,
the layer of shadow, the hand above the body, slowly
the texture, slowly the roughness

the sky unveils itself,
separates, like a curtain,
there appears a clear-lit cave.


How do lovers find each other when they are bodily? They may have to find a way to something static but respectful of their motion. This requires something that “peels.”

“Mattress,” “ashtray:” fright of death alone could be said to bring forth sexual impulse. This is only superficially unifying of our couple “here.” They’re still two at breakfast, tea, lunch and dinner. Something less concrete is needed, but it can’t be as universal as sex and death. Music is that airy thing, that which peels back layers even as it is itself layered.

What are the layers? “Shadow”/”body”/”texture”/”roughness.” Sexuality is back in a way with shadows, “the hand above the body.” Death is back in a way, with texture turned into roughness. And yet neither are present. The layers have been unraveled. There is duality in each.

How, then, does music unify? It revealed a false unity. It rightly deconstructed. Lovers have to discover each other; they have to work with the beloved that is changing. They have to take apart the (artificial) expectation that houses sometimes embody too well. Similarly, the sky’s lovely guises give way to dark night where stars are identifiable. The stars and sky do have a music of their own, that of the cosmos. Peeling away can be natural and whole in the best sense.

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