Poets are not mere mortals, and their passing, even if I have never met the poet, saddens me deeply. Former Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska died on February 1st. NPR calls her a “poet of gentle irony” who “deployed a whimsy,…even ion weighty themes.” Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski wrote, "In her poems we could find brilliant advice which made the world easier to understand."
At 88, her career spanned more than sixty years, and at the time of death she was still working. In spite of her long career, only 400 poems survived her “ trash bin in my room.”Symborska said, “A poem written in the evening is read again in the morning. It does not always survive."
If you are not familiar with her work, and you should be, please visit the following link.
As a tribute to Ms. Szymborska, I composed the following poem.
The Last Time it Snowed in Krakow
for Wislawa Szymborska
She sits by the window of her apartment, a cat on her lap and a cup of tea in her hand, watching.
On the street below it snows; it is always snowing these days, she thinks.
She sets down her tea and writes the line, The last time it snowed in Krakow was the day I died.
She strokes the cat, stretched across her thighs like a striped yogi, and imagines its thoughts in her absence.
In her poem “Cat in an Empty Apartment”, where something doesn’t happen as it should, she foretold this unfortunate creature’s future.
The cat will lie awake like a lone bird on a housetop; his days will pass like smoke as the poet’s ashes burn.
“You’ll be a pelican in the wilderness,” the poet says to her yawning companion, "because my days are declining like shadows.”
She ponders the weight of its grief; Ecclesiastes said he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.
Soon the cat will know the weathered world outside the window lays out its welcome mats only so long.