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.