An Unexpected Meeting
We treat each other with exceeding courtesy;
we say it’s great to see you after all these years.
Our tigers drink milk.
Our hawks tread the ground.
Our sharks have all drowned.
Our wolves yawn beyond the open cage.
Our snakes have shed their lightning,
our apes their flights of fancy,
our peacocks have renounced their plumes.
The bats flew out of our hair long ago.
We fall silent in mid-sentence,
all smiles, past help.
don’t know how to talk to one another.
by Wistlawa Szymborska
from View With a Grain of Sand
Harcourt Brace, 1993