|From the book Stellae and Inscriptions|
To Nina Braginskaya
who has studied antique epitaphs, and much else, insightfully
|Mistress and Servant|
|A woman looks into a mirror: what she sees can’t be seen; |
It’s unlikely that anything’s there.
On the other hand, why then is she
admiring one thing and figuring out how to fix something else
through one trick or another? why study herself?
It’s clear somthing’s there. Something that needs an affectionate
balm, pendants and beads. The servant stands silent
awaiting a wish that she’ll never fulfill.
Yes, we never understood each other. That’s understandable.
It wasn’t hard.
Something else was harder. We knew
all about everyone. All, to the end, to its
final and tender infinity.
Not wishing, not thinking – we knew.
Not listening – knew
and considered their wish in our minds, the wish that they
never had time to make known or to think about even. Of course.
For we’ve all got but one single request.
And there’s nothing besides
Mistress and Maidservant
A woman looks in a mirror, but we cannot see what she sees there,
one might hardly suppose there was something; yet if so,why then
should one marvel at one thing, or guess how to handle another
in such and such manner; why, then, do we study ourselves?
You see, there is something in this. Something prompting the pampering unguents,
the beads and the pendants. In silence the serving-maid stands,
awaiting her mistress’ request, a request she will never fulfil.
No, we did not understand one another; that is something
we can understand, So much is easy.
Something else is less easy; we knew
every thing about everyone. Everything to the end, to the last
tender and infinite attribute.
Without thinking or asking, we knew
and discussed without words a request
that they hadn’t yet made, that they hadn’t yet thought of
No wonder: there is just one request we all have,
we have nothing at all but for that
| ||Mistress and Servant|