This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers
and they open —
pools of lace,
white and pink —
and all day the black ants climb over them,
boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away
to their dark, underground cities —
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,
the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
their red stems holding
all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary,
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?
Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
(from New and Selected Poems)
If you could have wings would you want them?
I don’t know.
I mean, if you could use them to fly, would you want them?
Yes, if I could fly.
But they would be really big.
They might brush against your knees as you walked, or be bigger than some doorways.
And what if you couldn’t even take them off?
I still would want them.
If you couldn’t take them off, even if you were going somewhere, or going to bed, or eating at a table, or you wanted to pick someone up, you could never take them off?
Yes, I would. I would still want them.
Because you could fly?
Yes, because of the flying.
And if they were heavy, and even if no one else had them, and even if your children and their children didn’t have them?
Yes, I think so.
But you would still have arms and hands and legs, and you could still speak, but you had wings, too. You would want the wings, too?
Yes, I would want the wings, too.
And when you were walking around, people would stare at you, and they wouldn’t necessarily understand that you could fly?
I understand. I understand that they wouldn’t understand.
Or if people thought they meant something, something they didn’t really mean?
I would know what the wings were for.
And if you had them, forever—the forever, I mean, that is your life, you would still want them?
Yes, I would want them. I would take them, so long as I could fly.
that I might fly away
that I might fly away where the ships
that I might fly away where the ships of pine wood pass between the dark cliffs
The American Poetry Review: Vol. 28 No. 4
As LP will tell you herself, she is an outdoor girl. Any chance she gets, she is climbing rocks and trees, digging in the dirt, hunting for worms, and cooking up dandelion stews. One of her favorite pastimes of all: ant watching! 🙂
Four in the Morning
The hour from night to day.
The hour from side to side.
The hour for those past thirty.
The hour swept clean to the crowing of cocks.
The hour when earth betrays us.
The hour when wind blows from extinguished stars.
The hour of and-what-if-nothing-remains-after-us.
The hollow hour.
The very pit of all other hours.
No one feels good at four in the morning.
If ants feel good at four in the morning
–three cheers for the ants. And let five o’clock come
if we’re to go on living.
Translated by Magus J. Krynski and Robert A. Maguire
From Sounds, Feelings, Thoughts: Seventy Poems by Wislawa Szymborska (Princeton UP, 1981)
for Paul Verlaine
I am told that memory can’t afford
to care less about what it brings to light
just as I’m told the table does not
occupy itself with cleanliness
nor the made bed with desire,
but it is difficult to believe.
I do not imagine it simple to strip
from any given afternoon
the intentions of the day.
Not when a contingent darkness
announces itself at the door
like an ordinary to-do
and not when, in the winter garden,
the beautifully managed trees
toy with shadows of themselves.
A skim of plausible survival
settles on what I do while, in the museum
of the everyday, no dust whatsoever
is to be found on the bedside chair,
impeccable gold quilt.
It may well be possible to separate
into a fiction of forgetfulness,
the accomplished house,
but I don’t believe in it either.
There is before and after,
surely, and there is discretion
to be accounted for, and grief,
night after night, city after city,
word after functional word.
This is whatever time I have.
My whole body has to find a way
to be in possession of itself
like a shop selling only white things
or the way two bridges on the same river
will have knowledge of each other.
I first read this poem by Vona Groarke here at Poetry Daily: http://poems.com/poem.php?date=16185