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The Terrorist, He Watches – Wislawa Szymborska

The bomb will explode in the bar at twenty past one.
Now it’s only sixteen minutes past.
Some will still have time to enter,
some to leave.

The terrorist’s already on the other side.
That distance protects him from all harm
and well it’s like the pictures:

A woman in a yellow jacket, she enters.
A man in dark glasses, he leaves.
Boys in jeans, they’re talking.
Sixteen minutes past and four seconds.
The smaller one he’s lucky, mounts his scooter,
but the taller chap he walks in.

Seventeen minutes and forty seconds.
A girl, she walks by, a green ribbon in her hair.
But that bus suddenly hides her.
Eighteen minutes past.
The girl’s disappeared.
Was she stupid enough to go in, or wasn’t she.
We shall see when they bring out the bodies.

Nineteen minutes past.
No one else appears to be going in.
On the other hand, a fat bald man leaves.
But seems to search his pockets and
at ten seconds to twenty past one
he returns to look for his wretched gloves.

It’s twenty past one.
Time, how it drags.
Surely, it’s now.
No, not quite.
Yes, now.
The bomb, it explodes.

Taken from “Sounds Feelings Thoughts: Seventy Poems” by Wislawa Szymborska, trans. Adam Czermiawski

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