What’s it like to be a human

the bird asked


I myself don’t know

it’s being held prisoner by your skin

while reaching infinity

being captive of your scrap of time

while touching eternity

being hopelessly uncertain

and helplessly hopeful

being a needle of frost

and a handful of heat

breathing in the air

and choking wordlessly

it’s being on fire

with a nest made of ashes

eating bread

while filling up on hunger

it’s dying without love

it’s loving through death


That’s funny said the bird

and flew effortlessly up into the air


Anna Kamieńska

translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Barańezack & Clare Cavanagh

From Being Human (Bloodaxe Books, 2011)

© Susannah Ramsay

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