Kathleen Goldbach: A favorite poem

In Praise of My Sister
Wislawa Szymborska
translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh

I always love poems that have bits and pieces of everyday life in them. This poem does, and it also has humor and generosity. I wish I could read and understand it in the original Polish, but I have to be content with the excellent translation. It makes me grateful that through such translations we can view the lives of people so far away and see that what is meaningful to others, as well as ourselves, are the differences we accept in each other and the small moments of grace that we find in each day.

Kathleen Goldbach
Music Teacher, 68

In Praise of My Sister

My sister doesn’t write poems,
and it’s unlikely that she’ll suddenly start writing poems.
She takes after her mother, who didn’t write poems,
and also her father, who likewise didn’t write poems.
I feel very safe beneath my sister’s roof:
my sister’s husband would rather die than write poems.
And even though this is starting to sound as repetitive as Peter Piper,
the truth is, none of my relatives write poems.

My sister’s desk drawers don’t hold old poems,
and her handbag doesn’t hold new ones.
When my sister asks me over for lunch,
I know she doesn’t want to read me her poems.
Her soups are delicious without ulterior motives.
Her coffee doesn’t spill on manuscripts.

There are many families in which nobody writes poems,
but once it starts up it’s hard to quarantine.
Sometimes poetry cascades down through the generations,
creating fatal whirlpools where family love may founder.

My sister has tackled oral prose with some success,
but her entire written opus consists of postcards from vacations
whose text is only the same promise every year:
when she gets back, she’ll have
so much
much to tell.

Wislawa Szymborska


1 Comment

Filed under Favorite Poem, Uncategorized

One response to “Kathleen Goldbach: A favorite poem

  1. Thank you, Kathleen, for submitting this lovely poem. It reminds me of something you would write. Wislawa is one of my favorite poets.

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