Any Case

by Wislawa Szyborska

It could have happened.
It had to happen.
It happened earlier. Later.
Closer. Farther away.
It happened, but not to you.

You survived because you were the first.
You survived because you were the last.
Because alone. Because the others.
Because on the left. Because on the right.
Because it was raining. Because it was sunny.
Because a shadow fell.

Luckily there was a forest.
Luckily there were no trees.
Luckily a rail, a hook, a beam, a brake,
a frame, a turn, an inch, a second.
Luckily a straw was floating on the water.

Thanks to, thus, in spite of, and yet.
What would have happened if a hand, a leg,
One step, a hair away—

So you are here? Straight from that moment still suspended?
The net’s mesh was right, but you—through the mesh?
I can’t stop wondering at it, can’t be silent enough.
how your heart is beating in me.


  1. Indeed.

    That happened to 6 people at Oradour-sur-Glane...

    It has been said that it happened to me. I never read about it in a poem, however.


  2. powerful...thank you....smiles.

  3. Oh, my. Didn't realize i'd been holding my breath till after i let it out. So powerful. Love her work! Thank you.

  4. The inevitabilities of life and death given human frame of reference.

  5. I've read this 3 times since you posted this piece. For some reason, this writing resonates with me. It's very moving.


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