In Praise of My Sister Wisława Szymborska My sister doesn’t write poems. and it’s unlikely that she’ll suddenly start writing poems. She takes after her mother, who didn’t write poems, and also her father, who likewise didn’t write poems. I feel safe beneath my sister’s roof: my sister’s husband would rather die than write poems. And, even though this is starting to sound as repetitive as Peter Piper, the truth is, none of my relatives write poems. My sister’s desk drawers don’t hold old poems, and her handbag doesn’t hold new ones, When my sister asks me over for lunch, I know she doesn’t want to read me her poems. Her soups are delicious without ulterior motives. Her coffee doesn’t spill on manuscripts. There are many families in which nobody writes poems, but once it starts up it’s hard to quarantine. Sometimes poetry cascades down through the generations, creating fatal whirlpools where family love may founder. My sister has tackled oral prose with some success. but her entire written opus consists of postcards from vacations whose text is only the same promise every year: when she gets back, she’ll have so much much much to tell.
**This poem doesn’t really remind me of my sister. But it’s a poem about a sister and I think it’s funny. While it is probably true that my sister doesn’t have a purse full of poems she does actually have a body of scholarly writing. She doesn’t limit herself to postcards.