The End and the Beginning
Wislawa Szymborska
After every war
someone must clean up.
No sort of orderliness
happens by itself.

Someone has to push the rubble
to the side of the roads
so that the wagons full of corpses
can get through.

Someone has to wade through
the slime and ashes,
the couch springs,
the glass splinters
and bloody rags.

Someone has to drag in a beam
to support a wall,
someone must glaze a window
and hang the door on hinges.

This is not photogenic
and takes years.
All the cameras have already driven off
to another war.

The bridges have to be built again
and the station, too.
Sleeves will be in tatters
from being rolled up.
Someone with mop in hand
still remembers how it was.
Someone is listening,
nodding with a head not torn off.
But already people are
beginning to congregate,
who will be bored by all this.

From time to time someone must still
dig up a rusted argument
from underneath a bush
and haul it to the garbage dump.

Those who knew
what this was all about
must make way for those
who know little.
And less than little.
And finally as much as nothing.

In the grass, which has grown over
the causes and effects,
someone must lie
with an stalk of grass in his teeth
and gaze at the clouds.

-translated by Walter Whipple