Monday, February 13, 2006

A Contribution to Statistics

Out of a hundred people

those who always know better
-- fifty-two

doubting every step
-- nearly all the rest,

glad to lend a hand
if it doesn't take too long
-- as high as forty-nine,

always good
because they can't be otherwise
-- four, well maybe five,

able to admire without envy
-- eighteen,

suffering illusions
induced by fleeting youth
-- sixty, give or take a few,

not to be taken lightly
-- forty and four,

living in constant fear
of someone or something
-- seventy-seven,

capable of happiness
-- twenty-something tops,

harmless singly, savage in crowds
-- half at least,

when forced by circumstances
-- better not to know
even ballpark figures,

wise after the fact
-- just a couple more
than wise before it,

taking only things from life
-- thirty
(I wish I were wrong),

hunched in pain,
no flashlight in the dark
-- eighty-three
sooner or later,

-- thirty-five, which is a lot,

and understanding
-- three,

worthy of compassion
-- ninety-nine,

-- a hundred out of a hundred.
Thus far this figure still remains unchanged.

~ Wislawa Szymborska ~

Ah, middle age. I was a little woozy after going to Mercy today for endoscopy this morning. Although thanks to anathesia I can't recall the actual procedure but my sore throat does not feel as if the camera was the 'pill-sized' object described prior to procdedure. It seems as if a hital hernia was responsible for food becoming lodged in throat. I have to admit though since taking pills and watching the late night eating habits I have not had the need to pop antacid tablets like pez. Follow up in two weeks.

So while laying about on the couch and between naps I started reading the latest collection of poems from Polish Nobel laureate Szmborska, Monlogue of a Dog. A very slim volume of poetry inflated a bit by its being a dual-language edition with Polish versions of poems on facing pages. Her poems, like the one above , occaisonally show up in New Yorker. Billy Collins writes the introduction and notes that it was frequently the poets of Europe that Americans turned to post 9/11. This volume is a good albeit brief introduction to her work and I also recommend her collection of essays, Nonrequired Reading. (Which I managed to find remaindered at Prairie Lights, might still be some left.)

Finished reading A Tender Bar and enjoyed it. (Although part of me will never feel totally sympathetic to a Yale grad. Envy? Perhaps.) It was a poignantly written memoir about growing up and what it means to become a man without a father and the search for paternal role models.

Tried to start reading another memoir, Time was Soft There, A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co but due to proximity and or similarity of previous book. I was a bit put off by the narrator. Particularly when he refers to his book thusly in the preface, "...liquid have been distilled and condensed and then distilled again." While I do admire the disclosure, I think I will wait on this book for a while. Maybe read Sylvia Beach's book or A Moveable Feast again.

So I moved onto another memoir...Jacques Pepin's The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen. I love the stories of him growing up and the associations of simple dishes that his mother made that still burn strong after sixty years. There are several recipes included and little bon mots like the fact that Kaye was not only a close friend but one of the finest cooks Pepin had ever known, Chinese being Kaye's speciality. This will bide me over until I decide to shell out for a copy Larousse Gastronomique. Bon Appetit.


El Duderino said...

I like it, not only because of the sentiment but it scans well and rhymes well in the original Polish.

scruffylooking said...

So, what do they do to treat your hernia thingy (pure medical terminology there)?

Dexter said...

According to party line no treatment necessary except in extreme cases where because it is accompanied by the acid reflux of esophagitis so I should take pills. The literature also said that the majority of people over 50 have a small hiatal hernias.

Dexter said...

El Dude: In the parlanace of Joe, what a claimer you are.

Dexter said...

UPDATE: FYI someone not reading this gave me a copy of A Moveable Feast for my b-day. Cool.