A dear friend called. She was feeling a bit depressed, aggravated, like life was not being fair on this particular day. “On this particular decade,” I think she would interject. I listened. I empathized.
When I ran out of supportive words, I offered to read her a Wislawa Szymborska poem. She agreed, which is one of the reasons I love her–she knows what she needs. I said I was just going to open the book and read whatever I open it to.
“It might depress you even more…”
“Go ahead. Read.”
This is where we landed:
It could have happened.
It had to happen.
It happened sooner. Later.
It happened not to you.
You survived because you were the first.
You survived because you were the last.
Because you were alone. Because of people.
Because you turned left. Because you turned right.
Because rain fell. Because a shadow fell.
Because sunny weather prevailed.
Luckily there was a wood.
Luckily there were no trees.
Luckily there was a rail, a hook, a beam, a brake,
a frame, a bend, a millimeter, a second.
Luckily a straw was floating on the surface.
Thanks to, because, and yet, in spite of.
What would have happened had not a hand, a foot,
by step, a hairsbreadth
by sheer coincidence.
So you're here? Straight from a moment still ajar?
The net had one eyehole, and you got through it?
There's no end to my wonder, my silence.
how fast your heart beats in me.
“Beautiful,” she said and then added. “They should read that poem to returning soldiers.”
She thanked me. I thanked the poet.
(Above poem: There But for the Grace by Wislawa Szymborska – (c) 1972)