Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sharpening my wings

Some days, I walk into bookstores and I buy things — books! On impulse! Just like that! Some days, I don't know why I do it. But some days, it makes me feel better.

One day — in fact, I believe it may have been my birthday — my eyes fell on a thick black stack of The Collected Poems of Zbigniew Herbert. Besotted by Poetry though I may be these days, and curious to better know my countrymen (if I may call them that; I think I may), and realizing that likely it's freshly out in paperback, and printed with a fake sticker, the New York Times calling it a notable book, I still thought it was weird that the bookstore should have more than a dozen copies in stock. No matter. I had to have one. It was my birthday after all.

The book sits on the shelf under the coffee table, intimidating me. It is Poetry, and quite possibly Important besides, but also the fact of its Polishness sets me on edge a little — I worry that what I find will be too little, or too much.

Some days I pick it up, open it at random. I'm sniffing it out, getting used to its presence.

Today I find this...


The cold blue sky like a stone on which angels
sublime and quite unearthly sharpen their wings
moving on rungs of radiance on crags of shadow
they gradually sink into the imaginary heaven
but in another moment they emerge even paler
on the other side of the sky the other side of the eye
Don't say that it's not true that there are no angels
you immersed in the pool of your indolent body
you who see everything in the color of your eyes
and stand sated with world — at your lashes' edge

How could anyone be sated, with world, with poetry, with the sublime?

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