Too Close


I am too close for him to dream about me.

I’m not flying over him, not fleeing him

under the roots of trees. I am too close.

Not with my voice sings the fish in the net.

Not from my finger rolls the ring.

I am too close.  a large house is on fire

without my calling for help. Too close

for a bell dangling from my hair to chime.

Too close for me to enter as a guest

before whom the walls part.

Never again will I die so readily,

so far beyond the flesh, so inadvertently

as once in his dream. I am too close,

too close—I hear the hiss

and see the glittering husk of that word,

as I lie immobilized in his embrace. He sleeps,

more available at this moment

to the ticket lady of a one-lion traveling circus

seen but once in his life

than to me lying beside him.

Now a valley grows for her in him, ochre-leaved,

closed off by a snowy mountain

in the azure air. I am too close

to fall out of the sky for him. My scream

might only awaken him. Poor me,

limited to my own form,

but I was a birch tree, I was a lizard,

I emerged from satins and sundials

my skins shimmering in different colors. I possessed

the grace to disappear from astonished eyes,

and that is the rich man’s riches. I am too close,

too close for him to dream about me.

I slip my arm out from under his sleeping head.

It’s numb, full of imaginary pins and needles.

And on the head of each, ready to be counted,

dance the fallen angel




*Wisława Szymborska


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