Sunday, April 8, 2012

"...this must be the premiere"

We are already eight days into National Poetry Month with no time to waste.  Here is a gift sent by friend-poet Melissa Green, thank you,  by Polish writer and Nobel Prize-winner Wisława Szymborska.  It restates a theme explored in an earlier post here.  No false humility; the poets always say it best.


Life. While-You-Wait.
Performance without rehearsal.
Body without alterations.
Head without premeditation.

I know nothing of the role I play.
I only know it's mine, I can't exchange it.

I have to guess on the spot
just what this play's all about.

Ill-prepared for the privilege of living.
I can barely keep up with the pace that the action demands.
I improvise, although I loathe improvisation.
I trip at every step over my own ignorance.
I can't conceal my hayseed manners.
My instincts are for hammy histrionics.
Stage fright makes excuses for me, which humiliate me more.
Extenuating circumstances strike me as cruel.

Words and impulses you can't take back,
stars you'll never get counted,
your character like a raincoat you button on the run--
the pitiful results of all this unexpectedness.

If I could just rehearse one Wednesday in advance,
or repeat a single Thursday that has passed!
But here comes Friday with a script I haven't seen.
Is it fair, I ask
(my voice a little hoarse,
since I couldn't even clear my throat offstage).

You'd be wrong to think that it's just a slapdash quiz
taken in makeshift accommodations. Oh no.
I'm standing on the set and I see how strong it is.
The props are surprisingly precise.
The machine rotating the stage has been around even longer.
The farthest galaxies have been turned on.
Oh no, there's no question, this must be the premiere.
And whatever I do
will become forever what I've done.

Wisława Szymborska


beth coyote said...

'The farthest galaxies have been turned on.'

liked this line.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Beth - So do I. "...and the props are surprisingly precise." xo

Jayne said...

Melissa knows how to pick 'em, doesn't she?

Beautiful poem, and thanks for the reminder about poetry month--I haven't been in much mood to write lately, so I think I'll get to work on reading more poetry and posting it, too!

Marylinn Kelly said...

Jayne - She sure does - pick 'em and write 'em. And in case you didn't know, there will be a sheet of poet postage stamps available, I think, the 19th. If you go to you can see them. And remember Poem in Your Pocket Day on the 26th. xo