I have been thinking a lot about memory and about possessions, which are related for me, since my "things" often function as memory triggers. But they also function as clogging up the space you need to breathe and do other things except organizing possessions. Many years ago I read a book about people and their collections and personal museums. I have to say that my favorite was the woman who ran the Nut Museum (things made of nuts and nutshells) which showed her coming down a staircase in a long gown. I don't really want to open for business, but I am very glad that some of my favorite books are out of boxes.
For many years, Adam Zagajewski has been in the top handful of my favorite poets. I cannot read him in the original Polish, but only in the lovely English translations of Clare Cavanaugh. This is from his book, Mysticism for Beginners.
Those were the long afternoons when poetry left me.
The river flowed patiently, nudging lazy boats to sea.
Long afternoons, the coast of ivory.
Shadows lounged in the streets, haughty manikins in shopfronts
stared at me with bold and hostile eyes.
Professors left their schools with vacant faces,
as if the Iliad had finally done them in.
Evening papers brought disturbing news,
but nothing happened, no one hurried.
There was no one in the windows, you weren’t there;
even nuns seemed ashamed of their lives.
Those were the long afternoons when poetry vanished
and I was left with the city’s opaque demon,
like a poor traveler stranded outside the Gare du Nord
with his bulging suitcase wrapped in twine
and September’s black rain falling.
Oh, tell me how to cure myself of irony, the gaze
that sees but doesn’t penetrate; tell me how to cure myself
This is a poem that works on several levels and repays re-reading. Good night,