About My Mother by Adam Zagajewski

It’s my mother’s birthday today. I still don’t know what to make of this relationship. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve just grown older, or there are other things in my life now that are more important, but I find myself less angry and more tolerant. Probably even forgiving, but I won’t go into that too much too soon.

Here’s a poem which knew how I will be writing about her years from now.

About My Mother
Adam Zagajewski
Translated by Clare Cavanagh

I could never say anything about my mother:
how she repeated, you’ll regret it someday,
when I’m not around anymore, and how I didn’t believe
in either “I’m not” or “anymore,”
how I liked to watch as she read bestsellers,
always turning to the last chapter first,
how in the kitchen, convinced it’s not
her proper place, she made Sunday coffee,
or, even worse, filet of cod,
how she studied the mirror while expecting guests,
making the face that best kept her
from seeing herself as she was (I take
after her here and in a few other weaknesses),
how she went on at length about things
that weren’t her strong suit and how I stupidly
teased her, for example, when she
compared herself to Beethoven going deaf,
and I said, cruelly, but you know he
had talent, and how she forgave everything
and how I remember that, and how I flew from Houston
to her funeral and couldn’t say anything
and still can’t.

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