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Self-Ignorance

Impossible Friendships (poem)

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.

Notes

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.

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