Love Poetry

Love at First Sight

  • Contest: Love Poetry
  • Author: Wislawa Szymborska, 1993
  • Translation: Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh
  • They’re both convinced
    that a sudden passion joined them.
    Such certainty is beautiful
    but uncertainty is more beautiful still.

    Since they’d never met before, they’re sure
    that there’d been nothing between them.
    But what’s the word from the streets, staircases, hallways –
    perhaps they’ve passed each other by a million times?

    I want to ask them
    if they don’t remember –
    a moment face to face
    in some revolving door?
    perhaps a “sorry” muttered in a crowd?
    a curt “wrong number” caught in the receiver? –
    but I know the answer.
    No, they don’t remember.
  • They’d be amazed to hear
    that Chance has been toying with them
    now for years.

    Not quite ready yet
    to become their Destiny,
    it pushed them close, drove them apart,
    it barred their path,
    stifling a laugh,
    and then leaped aside.

    There were signs and signals
    even if they couldn’t read them yet.
    Perhaps three years ago
    or just last Tuesday
    a certain leaf fluttered
    from one shoulder to another?
    Something was dropped and then picked up.
    Who knows, maybe the ball that vanished
    into childhood’s thickets?

    There were doorknobs and doorbells
    where one touch had covered another
    Suitcases checked and standing side by side.
    One night perhaps some dream
    grown hazy by morning.

    Every beginning
    is only a sequel, after all,
    and the book of events
    is always open halfway through.