The Seance
Wislawa Szymborska

Chance shows her tricks.
She pulls a glass of cognac from her sleeve
and seats Henry on it.
I enter the bar and stand dumbfounded.
It's Henry and no one else
than the brother of Agnes' husband,
and Agnes is a relative
of Sophie's aunt's brother-in-law.
It turned out that we have a great grandfather in common.

Space in the fingers of fortune
expands and contracts,
lengthens and shortens.
It was just a tablecloth
and now it's like a handkerchief.
Guess whom I met,
and where, in Canada,
anf after how many years!
I thought he was no longer living,
and he's in a Mercedes.
Or on a plane to Athens.
Or in a stadium in Tokyo.

Chance turns a kaleidoscope in her hands.
Billions of colored glass particles flash.
Suddenly Hansel's piece of glass
crashes with Gretel's.
Imagine, in the same hotel.
Face to face in the elevator.
In the toy shop.
At the corner of Szewska and Jagiellonska Streets.

Chance is wrapped in the cape.
Things are lost and found again.
I came across something involuntarily.
I bent down and picked it up.
I look, and it's that spoon
from a stolen set.
If it weren't for the bracelet
I would not have recognized Ola,
and I happened on that clock in Plock.

Chance gazes deeply into our eyes.
Our heads begin to get heavy.
Our eyelids droop.
We feel like laughing and weeping,
for it's incredible --
from the fourth B on this ship,
there must be something to it.
We feel like screaming
how small the world is,
how easy to grasp
with open arms.
For a short while yet we are filled with joy,
both illuminating and deceiving.

-translated by Walter Whipple