Things I want to teach myself: how to be transparent but not give away all the mystery, how to be honest but not be overwhelmed with vulnerability, how to be accepting without being defeatist, how to be here and be really here.

Things I am unlearning: how to be cruel. How to be empty. How to die.

Poetry Reading
Anna Swir
Translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan

I’m curled into a ball
like a dog
that is cold.

Who will tell me
why I was born,
why this monstrosity
called life.

The telephone rings. I have to give
a poetry reading.

I enter.
A hundred people, a hundred pairs of eyes.
They look, they wait.
I know for what.

I am supposed to tell them
why there were born,
why there is
this monstrosity called life.

This is from A Book of Luminous Things, edited by Czeslaw Milosz, published by Harcourt, Inc., 1996.

Dear October: I need you to be over. I am so tired. I think I’m coming down with something. A fool: they loved calling me that.


The Greatest Love
Anna Swir
Translated by Czeslaw Milosz

She is sixty. She lives
the greatest love of her life.

She walks arm-in-arm with her dear one,
her hair streams in the wind.
Her dear one says:
“You have hair like pearls.”

Her children say:
“Old fool.”