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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Wislawa Szymborska, an homage

Poets give us a voice, theirs, to express our own wonder, curiosity, longing, piss-off-ness, love.

Poets give us the courage to find our own voice, ours, to use to express these same human inclinations.

In a course last year on Wislawa Szymborska's poetry, we were challenged to use her work as inspiration for our own creation. In the next days this blog will carry her own poetry, inviting us to wonder, to be dextrous and elegant in expressing our responses to the world. But for today, a poem inspired by her poetry, from the course last year.

Podkowa April 10, 2010

He is shooting clays in the forest.
His cell phone turned off in his pocket,
no messages of death can find him here.

"You like to shoot, why?" she asks.
"There is no reason," he tells her.
"Why do you ask so many questions?"

"No reason," she answers back.

No reason.
For the shooting.
For the questions.
A lie.

The sky is blue, the day is fresh, no cloud to put its shadow in their place.
They walk.
A red fox runs across their path.

"Danger!" he warns,
"Red foxes are outlawed now."

He bats his umbrella at the brambles grown brittle over the winter,
brush lines the path.

They skirt a giant ant hill --- taller than their waists ---
closed in by a wire fence.

"Zomo prisons for zomo ants," she jokes.

A master wordsmith, he won't use any of them on her.
They walk on, silent.
Forest sounds distract, the calls of birds, the chatter of squirrels.
In the far distance, back on the shooting range,
a sharp report.

The cell phone in her pocket buzzes.
Using simple Polish, she answers, "I'm here."
"It's for you," she hands it to him.

He listens long
then snaps it shut.
The umbrella slides off his wrist, the phone falls to the ground.

He finds her face with his hands.
"Live, just live."

By the end of the day he has used his words
to do the kind of work he demands of them.
Seven obituaries.
One long newstory about a plane crash.

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