Building the Barricade

by Anna Swir

We were afraid, building the barricade
under fire.

The barkeeper, the jeweler’s lover, the barber,
all of us cowards.
The servant-girl fell to the ground
hauling a pavement stone, and we were very afraid,
all of us cowards–
the streetsweeper, the stallholder, the pensioner.

The pharmacist fell to the ground,
dragging the toilet door,
and we were even more afraid, the smuggler-woman,
the dressmaker, the street driver,
all of us cowards.

The boy from the reform school fell
dragging a sandbag,
so we were really afraid.

Although no one forced us,
we did build the barricade
under fire.

Translated from the Polish by Boris Dralyuk

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