Reading List

“Could Have”

As a response to grief, I understand the impulse for keening. But I’m much more likely to withdraw in silence, the pain caught in my throat, until conscious breathing loosens tears. I seek poets’ words to unmute and articulate my emotion; I hold onto their carefully constructed stanzas like life rafts, even if my sorrow is born of sympathy and not lived experience.
So—this week, and Ukraine.
And: Wislawa Szymborska, a Nobel Prize-winning Polish poet born in 1923 who passed away this month ten years ago, after a life spent writing, writing, writing her way through a Nazi and then a Soviet occupation of her country, a country that is now the first refuge for those fleeing the current Russian invasion. Perhaps you’re able to read her in her original language; perhaps you find her Poems New and Collected in English; perhaps you discover and clutch, as I do, her poem “Could Have.”