He glanced, gave me extra charm
and I took it as my own.
Happily I gulped a star.
I let myself be invented,
modeled on my own reflection
in his eyes. I dance, dance, dance
in the stir of sudden wings.
The chair's a chair, the wine is wine,
in a wineglass that's the wineglass
standing there by standing there.
Only I'm imaginary,
make-believe beyond belief,
so fictitious that it hurts.
And I tell him tales about
ants that die of love beneath
a dandelion's constellation.
I swear a white rose will sing
if you sprinkle it with wine.
I laugh and I tilt my head
cautiously, as if to check
whether the invention works.
I dance, dance inside my stunned
skin, in his arms that create me.
Eve from the rib, Venus from foam,
Minerva from Jupiter's head—
all three were more real than me.
When he isn't looking at me,
I try to catch my reflection
on the wall. And see the nail
where a picture used to be.
"Over Wine," by Wisława Szymborska. From Poems New and Collected: 1957–1997, translated by Clare Cavanagh and Stanisław Barańczak (Harcourt, Inc., 1998).
Film directed by Matthew McKee/The Red Panel.