He fell from her knees like a ball of yarn.

He unwound in a hurry and ran blindly away.

She held the beginning of life. She would wind it

on her finger like a ring, she wanted to preserve him.


He was rolling down steep slopes, sometimes

he was climbing up. He would come back tangled, and be silent.

Never will he return to the sweet throne of her knees.

The stretched-out hands are alight in the darkness

like an old town.


From “Mr. Cogito” by Zbigniew Herbert. (Ecco: $22.95.) (copyright) 1993 Reprinted by permission. This is the second poem from “Mr. Cogito” that we have printed. For a review of the book, please see Page 3 of this issue.