Thursday, February 02, 2012


photos by Nirrimi

In the old master's landscape
the trees have roots beneath the oil paint,
the path undoubtedly reaches its goal,
the signature is replaced by a stately blade of grass,
it's a persuasive five in the afternoon,
May has been gently, yet firmly, detained,
so I've lingered, too. Why, of course, my dear,
I am the woman there, under the ash tree.

Just see how far behind I've left you,
see the white bonnet and the yellow skirt I wear,
see how I grip my basket so as not to slip out of the painting,
how I strut within another's fate
and rest awhile from living mysteries.

Even if you called I woudn't hear you,
and even if I heard I woudn't turn,
and even if I made that impossible gesture
your face would seem a stranger's face to me.

I know the world six miles around.
I know the herbs and spells for every pain.
God still looks down on the crown of my head.
I still pray I won't die suddenly.

War is a punishment and peace is a reward.
Shameful dreams all come from Satan.
My soul is a plain as a stone of a plum.

I don't know the games of the heart.
I've never seen my children's father naked.
I don't see the crabbed and blotted draft
that hides behind the Song of Songs.
What I want to say comes in ready-made phrases.

I never use despair, since it isn't really mine,
only given to me for safekeeping.

Even if  you bar my way,
even if you stare me in the face,
I'll pass you by on the chasm's edge, finer than a hair.

On the right is my house. I know it from all sides,
along with its steps and its entry way,
behind which life goes on unpainted.
The cat hops on a bench,
the sun gleams on a pewter jug,
a bony man sits at the table
fixing a clock.

by Wisława Szymborska

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