Bodybuilders’ Contest



From scalp to sole, all muscles in slow motion.

The ocean of his torso drips with lotion.

The king of all is he who preens and wrestles

with sinews twisted into monstrous pretzels.


Onstage, he grapples with a grizzly bear

the deadlier for not really being there.

Three unseen panthers are in turn laid low,

Each with one smoothly choreographed blow.


He grunts while showing his poses and paces.

His back alone has twenty different faces.

The mammoth fist he raises as he wins

is tribute to the force of vitamins.




Wisława Szymborska  

(from Salt 1962)