Portrait of a Woman

Wislawa Szymborska
portrait of a woman
She must come in many varieties.
To change so that nothing ever changes.
It’s easy, impossible, hard, worth trying.
Her eyes are, as needed, now deep blue, now grey,
dark, playful, brimming for no reason with tears.
She sleeps with him like a one-night stand, like his one and only.
With him, she will have four children, no children, one.
Naïve, yet giving the best advice.
Weak, yet able to bear anything.
Has no head on her shoulders, but will have.
Reads Jaspers and ladies magazines.
Doesn’t know what this screw is for and will build a bridge.
Young, as usual young, as always still young.
Holds in her hands a little sparrow with a broken wing,
her own money for a journey long and distant
a meat-cleaver, a poultice and a shot of vodka.
Where is she running like that, isn’t she tired?
Not at all, just a bit, very much, it’s not a problem.
Either she loves him or is determined to.
For better, for worse, and for heavens sake.

Translation by: translated by Justyn Hunia and Alice Lyons

Page 29, Poetry Ireland Review Issue 82