Spring 2001 • Vol. XXIII No. 2 Cultures of Creativity: The Centennial Celebration of the Nobel PrizesApril 1, 2001 |

Cat in an Empty Apartment

From the Polish.     Die—you can't do that to a cat. What is it to do, the cat, in an empty apartment, but climb the walls, and rub against the furniture? It's as if nothing is changed —yet everything is out of true: as if nothing has been moved, and yet, there's a void. And of an evening, the lamp's not lit.   Footsteps on the stairs— but not the right ones: and an unfamiliar hand puts fish on the plate.   Things here aren't beginning in their usual seasons. Nothing takes place as it should. Someone who was, and was, suddenly is no more— and remains, stubbornly, no more.   All the wardrobes have been investigated; every shelf nosed over; the crawlspace between carpet and floor, checked: even the forbidden papers have been riffled through and scattered. What more is there to do but sleep, and wait?   Well, just let him come back— just let him show his face! He'll find out, all right, what a cat does, and does not, permit. It

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Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012) was a Polish poet, essayist, translator and recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature. Her poetry is full of wisdom, wit, and a haunting, surreal quality. One of her major themes is differentness, or otherness: the lack of mutual comprehension between different conditions, species, kinds of matter.

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