“Reincarnation of tired beings” and other poems by Katrina Dybzynska

Secrets of a cartographer’s wife

The cartographer’s wife never told him
about her contributions to his maps.
A few tiny islands hidden in the middle
of an archipelago in the name of symmetry.
Some borderline moved to resemble
a face shape. The territory of England shortened
slightly, in personal revenge.

One time, she renamed an insignificant river
in Bangladesh after her lover. She felt pity
for the cartographer that he was more furious
about the affair than about her intervention
in the world order. She knew that romances
were ephemeral, while naming things
was changing them forever.


Reincarnation of tired beings

In my next life I want to become a German
couple in their retirement, in a fitted camper.
Him, steering confidently through the round
-abouts and telling the same jokes for the last 30 years.

Her, reading paper maps and navigating
the playlist, suggesting a small parallel road
as they will believe themselves adventurous,
trying local dishes, carrying beer from home.

I used to think that I aimed to be a hacker,
but in fact, I strove to be a virus –
a threat beyond miscommunication,
ever-transforming, so closest to survival.

Or, I would settle on the life of a solar panel,
reduced to basic energies, dutifully
absorbing light, left in the middle
of the desert, shining hope for the future.



Our child would have uneven
teeth and a birthmark on the right
hip. The rest would be a fight
for domination: eyes that change

color, like mine, when I am happy,
or yours so black that it is impossible
to distinguish them from pupils?
Yours curly or mine straight?

Maybe, it would love spicy food
after me, or have a pepper-allergy
like its father. I wonder if it could
still choose its food.

Would it inherit your pure as seagull’s
laughter or the one with a hidden question
mark like mine? Would there still
be seagulls for reference? Most importantly:
would it have lots of reasons to laugh?

Hopefully, it would get skin
after you as it is more resistant
to heat. But you disagree as my skin
color is more resistant to humans.

You think that it would see connections
and that we would teach it to protect
nature. Before I leave, I respond
that by then there might not be much left
to protect.


Love Emergence

How do you know that you are in love?
My little sister asked our grandmother,
because she remembers to respects elders
even if their idea of a “date” is to watch
the same soap opera for the past 30 years,
still arguing about that 6754th episode
where Ridge nearly cheats on Brooke.
– If you have grandkids with him, probably
it is love, grandma replied, which I did not find
particularly helpful for a 17 y.o.

How do you know that you are in love?
My sister demanded from our mother
because l had taught her to always look for a second
opinion. I also told her to choose her experts
carefully and our mother, three divorces
and each child with a different father,
might not be the perfect pick for the subject.
– Does he make you laugh, my mum asked.
Because that is the only way to go through
hardships. Yet, I do not believe in the existence of
the Joke that would save my parents’ marriage.

How do you know that you are in love?
My sister, that I never called half-sister
as there is nothing half, nor genetic.
About love came to me finally. She is clever
saving the best for last. And all I was able to advise her
was to talk to him about climate break-down.
If he makes you feel safe even when he says he is scared,
Not in the “everything will be alright” meaningless way,
but in seeing more connections than one heart
could ever love, if he makes you feel at home,
even when the home is on fire,
this must be it.


The tipping point

Two human pregnancies, or one of an elephant,
white rhino, orca or a killer whale.

The time that takes for bamboo to grow 498 meters,
or for your hair to be 22.5 centimeters longer.

The period needed to write The Jungle Book,
or to cross the Sahara by camel, and return.

If it was a baby, by then it would learn to refer to itself
by name, echo what people say, and – what is comforting –
understand 10 times more than it can put into words.

18 months.
Can we transform the whole world of interwoven links
in a time it takes to decompose a cigarette?



Katrina Dybzynska poet, shortlisted for Red Line Poetry Prize 2019. Author of „Dzień, w którym decydujesz się wyjechać” (The Day When You Decide To Leave), Grand Prix of Rozewicz Open Contest 2017. Laureate of national competitions in Poland. She has been publishing short stories, concept book, science fiction, reportage, and poetry, but feels most attracted to genre hybrids. Polish Non-Fiction Institute graduate. Activist. Currently a member of Extinction Rebellion Ireland.

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