A Reply to Wislawa Szymborsky’s
A Little Bit About the Soul

Alas, dear Wislawa,
who has seen much, known much,
survived more than a little, you might
have said that facts, the world,
bloody history, relent on
holidays, or when the rain is gentle,
and we are free to run, dance, restore
balance in our lives, that the soul is
light as a crêpe scarf dropped at a picnic.
Yet it watches.

For, surely, you know that the soul
is always counting, weighing,
adding and subtracting even while
we dream or briefly lose our breath;
moving its abacus beads, adjusting
its subtotal toward our final sum.

Each grief leaves a mark, each tear a stain,
so that, in years, the soul shines like
a lacquered box. Works do little to
cleanse it, though a good laugh helps.

Surely, in your Polish soul, you know
these things.

Perhaps you forgot one morning
or evening when the poem came,
in an hour of joy. I too forget;
and in forgetting, release my mind
from shadowing my soul, as it swims
like a golden carp beside me.

It is forever, Wislawa, and already
knows how it will leave the body
when the bones call for earth,
scarcely restrained by muscle and skin;
and journeys beyond foursquare heaven,
to bathe in starlight before returning to Earth.

Is there more? Tell me when you know.
Or I will inform you, dear poet.

By Hudson Owen. All Rights Reserved

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