While attempting to KonMari a bookcase earlier this week, I delightedly and unexpectedly found a folder with poems I had clipped, copied, saved, and then forgotten about for years. In it was this poem, my introduction to Wislawa Szymborska from her book View With A Grain of Sand. Here, at the end of National Poetry Month, is one of my favorite poems ever.
A Tale Begun
The world is never ready
for the birth of a child.
Our ships are not yet back from Vinland.
We still have to get over the St. Gotthard pass.
We've got to outwit the watchmen on the desert of Thor,
fight our way through the sewers to Warsaw's center,
gain access to King Harold the Butterpat
and wait until the downfall of Minister Fouché.
Only in Acapulco
can we begin anew.
We've run out of bandages,
matches, hydraulic presses, arguments, and water.
We haven't got the trucks, we haven't got the Mings' support.
This skinny horse won't be enough to bribe the sheriff.
No news so far about the Tartars' captives.
We'll need a warmer cave for winter
and someone who can speak Harari.
We don't know who to trust in Nineveh,
what conditions the prince cardinal will decree,
which names Beria's still got inside his files.
They say Charles the Hammer strikes tomorrow at dawn.
In this situation let's appease Cheops,
report ourselves of our own free will,
pretend to be friends with the Doge
and that we've got nothing to do with the Kwabe tribe.
Time to light the fires.
Let's send a cable to grandma in Zabierzow.
Let's untie the knots in the yurt's leather straps.
May delivery be easy,
may our child grow and be well.
Let him be happy from time to time
and leap over abysses.
Let his heart have strength to endure
and his mind be awake and reach far.
But not so far
that it sees into the future.
that one gift,
0 heavenly powers.