know thyself

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Selecting poems to share as National Poetry Month starts to wind down, I also came across a note from a phantom from the past – someone who was startlingly insensitive in the ‘heyday’ of our acquaintance but occasionally comes up with something both sweet and thought-provoking now.

On relationships/sharing space and time with someone: “I think it’s more about understanding the necessity of being able to share and sustain the vital moment-to-moment microbial details with someone, which has nothing to do with the legendary impacts of romantic impressions that soon become questionable – perhaps not finding this in someone is where your ‘incapable’ lies presently. After all, your details are lovely – slow, patient and kind – whether you recognise it or not. One of those sayings that has given me access to a different perspective has been floating over me lately, ‘Above all else, know thyself’.”

And who will guide us back to friendship with and knowing of ourselves? …

 

Impossible Friendships
By Adam Zagajewski

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 passerby 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.