Who sees the world with his heart

From Master of Disguises by Charles Simic (1938-):

Picture of Charles Simic's Master of Disguises

 

 

 

 

 

“The Elusive Something”

Was it in the smell of freshly baked bread
That came out to meet me in the street?
The face of a girl carrying a white dress
From the cleaners with her eyes half closed?

The sight of a building blackened by fire
Where once I went to look for work?
The toothless old man passing out leaflets
For a clothing store going out of business?

Or was it the woman pushing a baby carriage
About to turn the corner? I ran after,
As if the little one lying in it was known to me,
And found myself alone on a busy street

I didn’t recognize, feeling like someone
Out for the first time after a long illness,
Who sees the world with his heart,
Then hurries home to forget how it felt.

Everyone needs a place.

Dreams make a significant appearance in both this Richard Siken poem and his other piece that I posted a few months ago. So this may be influenced by the fact that it’s quite late, and I’m growing sleepier (and less coherent) by the minute, but I find Siken’s poems sort of dreamlike themselves. Threaded tightly with images and assertions both head-noddingly familiar and somewhat jarring, these two poems leave me feeling a bit like I do after just waking from some dreams–intrigued and bewildered and startlingly, perhaps reassuringly, exposed.

“Detail of the Woods”

I looked at all the trees and didn’t know what to do.

A box made out of leaves.
What else was in the woods? A heart, closing. Nevertheless.

Everyone needs a place. It shouldn’t be inside of someone else.
I kept my mind on the moon. Cold moon, long nights moon.

From the landscape: a sense of scale.
From the dead: a sense of scale.

I turned my back on the story. A sense of superiority.
Everything casts a shadow.

Your body told me in a dream it’s never been afraid of anything.

Forgive me, distant wounds, for bringing flowers home.

From the beautifully sharp Polish poet Wislawa Szymborsksa (1923-), who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996.

Picture of Wislawa Szymborska

“Beneath One Little Star”
(translated by by Adam Czerniawski)

My apologies to the accidental for calling it necessary.
However apologies to necessity if I happen to by wrong.
Hope happiness won’t be angry if I claim it as my own.
May the dead forget they barely smolder in my remembrance.
Apologies to time for the abundance of the world missed every second.
Apologies to my old love for treating the new as the first.
Forgive me, distant wounds, for bringing flowers home.
Forgive me, open wounds, that I prick my finger.
Apologies to those calling from the abyss for a record of a minuet.
Apologies to people catching trains for sleeping at dawn.
Pardon me, baited hope, for my sporadic laugh.
Pardon me, deserts, for not rushing with a spoonful of water;
And you too, hawk, unchanged in years, in that self-same cage.
Staring motionless, always at the self-same spot.
Forgive me, even if you are stuffed.
Apologies for the hewn tree for four table legs.
Apologies to the big questions for small replies.
Truth, don’t pay me too much attention.
Seriousness – be magnanimous.
Mystery of Being – suffer me to pluck threads from your train.
Soul – don’t blame me for having you but rarely.
Apologies to everyone for failing to be every him or her.
I know that while I live nothing can excuse me,
Since I am my own impediment.
Speech – don’t blame me for borrowing big words and
then struggling to make them light.