Slapstick by WislawaSzymborska (tr. Branczak & Cavanagh) If there are angels, I doubt they read our novels concerning thwarted hopes. I'm afraid, alas, they never touch the poems that bear our grudges against the world. The rantings and railings of our plays must drive them, I suspect, to distraction. Off duty, between angelic--- i.e., inhuman---occupations, they watch instead our slapstick from the age of silent film. To our dirge wailers, garment renders, and teeth gnashers, they prefer, I suppose, that poor devil who grabs the drowning man by his toupee or, starving, devours his own shoelaces with gusto. From the waist up, starch and aspirations; below, a startled mouse runs down his trousers. I'm sure that's what they call real entertainment. A crazy chase in circles ends up pursuing the pursuer. The light at the end of the tunnel turns out to be a tiger's eye. A hundred disasters mean a hundred comic somersaults turned over a hundred abysses. If there are angels, they must, I hope, find this convincing, this merriment dangling from terror, not even crying Save me Save me since all of this takes place in silence. I can even imagine that they clap their wings and tears run from their eyes from laughter, if nothing else.