We must see these things without you now.

I am feeling my grief in my body today, with a sour, tentative stomach and weariness on my shoulders and brow. It is very hot, as were the days after my mother and father passed, and there seems something unrelenting about the heat and light, as if one must look at grief straight on, without protection from the glare. Other, smaller losses have been accumulating, too, and comfort not in the place where I would usually reach.

Still, Jon Frankel cooked a good meal last night, and we drank wine and talked of Peggy, and I am always at home at that table.

Here is an elegy that Peggy wrote a while ago, for Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska. This line jumps out: We must see these things without you now.


Elegy for Wislawa Szymborska


Oh daughter of simplicity,

you are now free of fame’s field of gravity.


Its force almost silenced you, but

you’re no longer poet with a capital P—


clumping across the world’s stage on stilts

like a trained acrobat.


You will dance now with angels,

at ease in old shoes from Chelmek.


In your hands, ordinary things like laughter

and a hospital room turn golden,


while hidden clues to cruelty and oppression

leap from the paintings of Brughel


and the glories of ancient Troy.

We must see these things without you now.


But will you be content with perfection?

Or like a car left alone, will you chew at its edges—


Sure of a flaw—until a thread comes loose

which you can pull and bat around.


Perhaps then you’ll be content,

having mussed Perfection up a bit.


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