Dear friends, whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you are going through today, I know that a poem does not make everything better. It does not reverse time, nor does it replace a child killed in a bomb blast in Manchester, England. It’s only a poem. That’s all. The slenderest of literary threads. But someday a poem (and a prayer) is all we have. The following is by the brilliant poet Adam Zagajewski. It’s translated by Claire Cavanaugh. I have turned to this poem again and again over the past ten years of my life. I am turning to it today. I am Taking a Breath. Read it aloud for a moment. Share it with a friend. Please take a breath with me today. It’s all I know to do.
Try to Praise the Mutilated World
Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees going nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes