Nothing's a Gift
Wislawa Szymborska
Nothing's a gift, everything is borrowed.
I'm drowning in debts up to my ears.
I will be forced
to pay for myself with myself,
to give my life for my life.

It has been appointed
that the heart must be returned,
and the liver, too,
and each individual finger.

It's too late to cancel the contract.
Debts will be extracted from me
along with my skin.

I wander this earth
amid a throng of fellow debtors.
Some are burdened by the obligation
of paying off their wings.
Others, like it or not,
are charged for their leaves.

The Debt side encumbers
each tissue in us.
There is no eyelash, no petiole
to keep forever.

The register is meticulous
and it's evident that
we are to be left with nothing.

I can't remember
where, when and why
I consented to open
this account.

The protest against this account
is what we call the soul.
And it is the only thing
not on the list.

-translated by Walter Whipple