Impossible Friendships (poem)
- By Adam Zagajewski
- Translated by Clare Cavanagh
- Found in NY Times Magazine
For example, with someone who no longer is, who exists only in yellowed letters. Or long walks beside a stream, whose depths hold hidden porcelain cups — and the talks about philosophy with a timid student or the postman. A passer-by with proud eyes whom you’ll never know. Friendship with this world, ever more perfect (if not for the salty smell of blood). The old man sipping coffee in St.-Lazare, who reminds you of someone. Faces flashing by in local trains — the happy faces of travelers headed perhaps for a splendid ball, or a beheading. And friendship with yourself — since after all you don’t know who you are.
I don’t believe we humans have any special form of self-knowledge or introspection. That’s why I like this poem, especially its last, somewhat awkward line.