I am too close

 

 

I am too close for him to dream of me.
I don't flutter over him, don't flee him

beneath the roots of trees. I am too close.

The caught fish doesn't sing with my voice.
The ring doesn't roll from my finger.
I am too close. The great house is on fire

without me calling for help. Too close

for one of my hairs to turn into the rope

of the alarm bell. Too close to enter

as the guest before whom walls retreat.
I'll never die again so lightly,

so far beyond my body, so unknowingly

as I did once in his dream. I am too close,

too close, I hear the word hiss

and see its glistening scales as I lie motionless

in his embrace. He's sleeping,

more accessible at this moment to an usherette

he saw once in a travelling circus with one lion,

than to me, who lies at his side.
A valley now grows within him for her,

rusty-leaved, with a snowcapped mountain at one end

rising in the azure air. I am too close

to fall from that sky like a gift from heaven.

My cry could only waken him. And what

a poor gift: I, confined to my own form,

when I used to be a birch, a lizard

shedding times and satin skins

in many shimmering hues. And I possessed

the gift of vanishing before astonished eyes,

which is the richest of all. I am too close,

too close for him to dream of me.
I slip my arm from underneath his sleeping head

it's numb, swarming with imaginary pins.

A host of fallen angels perches on each tip,

waiting to be counted.

 

 

 

 

Wisława Szymborska

(from Salt 1962)