Carolyn Martin

An Amateur Photographer Reads Szymborska’s “No Title Required”

Kleines Glück by Helma

This is how the morning starts:
She’s sitting under a tree beside a river
having arrived there from somewhere else.
I’m on my patio waiting for August heat
to diminish last night’s chill.
She postulates unimportant details ground
the earth. We agree to agree.

Take the sprinklers that did their job at dawn.
The bees committed – whole-bodily –
to last-gasping blooms.
Or the spider dropping from the maple tree
to read my pencil-noted book.

Nothing earth-quaking here,
but who would want to live without?

I admit, if I were under her poplar tree
at the Raba’s edge, I’d turn my camera
toward the everyday of riversides.
There: accidents of light, half-bent limbs,
clouds reflecting in swathes of calm.
Here: my eye framing unimportant things,
offering them eternity.

But today is her insignificant event
where every detail signifies: the fertile past,
wind/ants/grass, coronations and conspiracies.
Each the quiddity of circumstance,
each merging each-with-each.

Here’s something I’d want her to understand:
Without a witty thought, I’d wait
for a butterfly to settle on a willow branch.
Without a wise thought, I’d expect its shadow to arrive.
Without any thought at all, I’d bow my camera
toward this trinity, letting river backgrounds blur.
I’d be content with that, I’d want her to know.
Without a fanfare of doubt, I’d be content.


About the writer:
From Assistant Professor of English to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin has journeyed from New Jersey to Oregon to discover Douglas firs, months of rain, and dry summers. Her poems and book reviews have appeared in publications throughout North America and the UK including Stirring, CALYX, Persimmon Tree, How Higher Education Feels, and Antiphon. Her third collection, Thin Places, was released by Kelsay Books in 2017.

Image: Kleines Glück by Helma (1940-). Oil on canvas. 58.6 x 39.3 inches. 1999. By free license via photograph by Jan Schüler (1963-). The picture was taken on September 15, 2015, in Helma’s Berlin studio.

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