Thursday, March 08, 2018

A screw loose and tough as nails

Happy International Women's Day!
Portrait of a Woman

She must be a variety.
Change so that nothing will change.
It's easy, impossible, tough going, worth a shot.
Her eyes are, as required, deep blue, gray,
dark, merry, full of pointless tears.
She sleeps with him as if she's first in line or the only one on earth.
She'll bear him four children, no children, one.
Naive, but gives the best advice.
Weak, but takes on anything.
A screw loose and tough as nails.
Curls up with Jaspers or Ladies' Home Journal.
Can't figure out this bolt and builds a bridge.
Young, young as ever, still looking young.
Holds in her hands a baby sparrow with a broken wing,
her own money for some trip far away,
a meat cleaver, a compress, a glass of vodka.
Where's she running, isn't she exhausted.
Not a bit, a little, to death, it doesn't matter.
She must love him, or she's just plain stubborn.
For better, for worse, for heaven's sake.

— Wisława Szymborska (tr. Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh)
I spend months believing the poetry gene came from my father's side. Yesterday my mother recalls how her mother would recite epic poems by heart at bedtime.

So the poetry gene skipped a generation.

She was tough as nails.

[But that line, "A screw loose and tough as nails." In Polish, "Nie ma głowy na karku, to będzie ją miała." More literally, She has no head on her shoulders, so will have one. So maybe, An airhead, with a real head on her shoulders. Or, Where is her head, her head's on straight. Or, She loses her head, but headstrong.]

No comments: