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.