It could have happened.
It had to happen.
It happened earlier. Later.
Closer. Farther away.
It happened, but not to you.
You survived because you were first.
You survived because you were last.
Because alone. Because the others.
Because on the left. Because on the right.
Because it was raining. Because it was sunny.
Because a shadow fell.
Luckily there was a forest.
Luckily there were no trees.
Luckily a rail, a hook, a beam, a brake,
A frame, a turn, an inch, a second.
Luckily a straw was floating on the water.
Thanks to, thus, in spite of, and yet.
What would have happened if a hand, a leg,
One step, a hair away?
So you are here? Straight from that moment still suspended?
The net's mesh was tight, but you? through the mesh?
I can't stop wondering at it, can't be silent enough.
How quickly your heart is beating in me.
[ Translated from the Polish by Grazyna Drabik and Sharon Olds ]
An Opinion on the Question of Pornography
There's nothing more debauched than thinking.
This sort of wantonness runs wild like a wind-borne weed
on a plot laid out for daisies.
Nothing's sacred for those who think.
Calling things brazenly by name,
risqué analyses, salacious syntheses,
frenzied, rakish chases after the bare facts,
the filthy fingering of touchy subjects,
discussion in heat--it's music to their ears.
In broad daylight or under cover of night
they form circles, triangles, or pairs.
The partners' age or sex is unimportant.
Their eyes glitter, their cheeks are flushed.
Friend leads friend astray.
Degenerate daughters corrupt their fathers.
A brother pimps for his little sister.
They prefer the fruits
from the forbidden tree of knowledge
to the pink buttocks found in glossy magazines--
all that ultimately simple-hearted smut.
The books they relish have no pictures.
What variety they have lies in certain phrases
msrked with a thumbnail or a crayon.
It's shocking, the positions,
the unchecked simplicity with which
one mind contrives to fertilize another!
Such positions the Kama Sutra itself doesn't know.
During these trysts of theirs, the only thing that's steamy is the tea.
People sit on their chairs and move their lips.
Everyone crosses only his own legs
so that one foot is resting on the floor
while the other dangles freely in midair.
Only now and then does somebody get up,
go to the window,
and through a crack in the curtains
take a peep out at the street.
[ From View with a Grain of Sand by Wislawa Szymborska
Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh
"A Harvest Original" Harcourt & Brace & Co. New York 1993 ]