MEMORY AT LAST

Memory at last has what it sought.
My mother has been found, my father glimpsed.

I dreamed up for them a table, two chairs. They sat down.
Once more they seemed close, and once more living for me.
With the lamps of their two faces, at twilight,
they suddenly gleamed as if for Rembrandt.

Only now can I relate
the many dreams in which they've wandered, the many throngs
in which I've pulled them out from under wheels,
the many death-throes where they have collapsed into my arms.
Cut off - they would grow back crooked.
Absurdity forced them into masquerade.
Small matter that this could not hurt them outside me
if it hurt them inside me.
The gawking rabble of my dreams heard me calling "mamma"
to something that hopped squealing on a branch.
And they laughed because I had a father with a ribbon in his hair.
I would wake up in shame.

Well, at long last.
On a certain ordinary night,
between a humdrum Friday and Saturday,
they suddenly appeared exactly as I wished them.
Seen in a dream, they yet seemed freed from dreams,
obedient only to themselves and nothing else.
All possibilities vanished from the background of the image,
accidents lacked a finished form.
Only they shone with beauty, for they were like themselves.
They appeared to me a long, long time, and happily.

I woke up. I opened my eyes.
I touched the world as if it were a carved frame.

-Wislawa Szymborska