Family album

by Wislawa Szymborska

Wislawa Szymborska

No one in this family has ever died of love.
No food for myth and nothing magisterial.
Consumptive Romeos? Juliets diphtherial?
A doddering second childhood was enough.
No death-defying vigils, love-struck poses
over unrequited letters strewn with tears!
Here, in conclusion, as scheduled, appears
a portly, pince-nez'd neighbor bearing roses.
No suffocation-in-the-closet gaffes
because the cuckold returned home too early!
Those frills or furbelows, however flounced and whirly,
barred no one from the family photographs.
No Bosch-like hell within their souls, no wretches
found bleeding in the garden, shirts in stains!
(True, some did die with bullets in their brains,
for other reasons, though, and on field stretchers.)
Even this belle with rapturous coiffure
who may have danced till dawn - but nothing smarter -
hemorrhaged to a better world, b i e n s u r,
but not to taunt or hurt y o u, slick-haired partner.
For others, Death was mad and monumental -
not for these citizens of a sepia past.
Their griefs turned into smiles, their days flew fast,
their vanishing was due to influenza.

Last updated June 26, 2015