February 2, 2012

Wislawa Szymborska (2 July 1923 - 1 February 2012)


Returning memories?
No, at the time of death
I’d like to see lost objects
return instead

Avalanches of gloves,
coats, suitcases, umbrellas -
come, and I’ll say at last:
What good’s all this?

Safety pins, two odd combs,
a paper rose, a knife,
some string-come, and I’ll say
at last: I haven’t missed you.

Please turn up, key, come out,
wherever you’ve been hiding,
in time for me to say:
You’ve gotten rusty, my friend!

Downpours of affidavits,
permits and questionnaires,
rain down and I will say:
I see the sun behind you.

My watch, dropped in a river,
bob up and let me seize you -
then, face to face, I’ll say:
Your so-called time is up.

And lastly, toy balloon
once kidnapped by the wind -
come home, and I will say:
There are no children here.

Fly out the open window
and into the wide world;
let someone else shout “Look!”
and I will cry.

- from Poems New and Collected, translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh, Harcourt, 2001
Photo: Szymborska photographed in Krakow, 1991 by Elżbieta Lempp


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