Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Sridala Swami

CRYOGENIC

CRYOGENIC

CRYOGENIC

Let’s suppose it is the man who waits
for the woman to return.
 
Let’s assume it’s been twenty years,
or thirty.
 
In all that time, through all upheavals
and sorrows, and who knows, perhaps a few joys,
 
he holds himself ready for the moment
when she will return.
 
While she goes on adventures
and becomes lined with life,
 
or perhaps takes on large burdens
on behalf of many people,
 
he is perfect and cold.
He is waiting for her.
 
One day, triumphant, she returns
expecting to find many things changed
 
but some things, at least,
just as they were.
 
As with Odysseus, she thinks she will know him
by his old scars
 
and learn about him
by his new ones.
 
But in the twenty or thirty years she has been away
the world has left no mark on him;
 
nothing acquired, nothing changed.
He is just as she had left him.
 
Perfectly preserved,
he knows nothing.
 
What can he tell her about truth
or reconciliation?
Close

CRYOGENIC

Let’s suppose it is the man who waits
for the woman to return.
 
Let’s assume it’s been twenty years,
or thirty.
 
In all that time, through all upheavals
and sorrows, and who knows, perhaps a few joys,
 
he holds himself ready for the moment
when she will return.
 
While she goes on adventures
and becomes lined with life,
 
or perhaps takes on large burdens
on behalf of many people,
 
he is perfect and cold.
He is waiting for her.
 
One day, triumphant, she returns
expecting to find many things changed
 
but some things, at least,
just as they were.
 
As with Odysseus, she thinks she will know him
by his old scars
 
and learn about him
by his new ones.
 
But in the twenty or thirty years she has been away
the world has left no mark on him;
 
nothing acquired, nothing changed.
He is just as she had left him.
 
Perfectly preserved,
he knows nothing.
 
What can he tell her about truth
or reconciliation?

CRYOGENIC

Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
Partners
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