Auto Mirror By Adam Zagajewski: Reading and Meditation

August 14, 2020  • Todd Breyfogle

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Auto Mirror, Adam Zagajewski


Great things dwell in small ones for a moment. Sometimes greatness doesn’t present itself to us until it is framed, until we can see it with perspective. Beauvais Cathedral or any large structure, or mountain, or sea, or expansive natural feature may be hard to fathom up close. But to see it from afar, in context and proportion, allows its greatness to come into view. The same is true, I suppose, of time, but in reverse. The small details, day by day, become greater than they actually are and overwhelm us. But perspective some time after the fact may restore them to their proper size and proportion. I read the poem and see the bulk of the Beauvais Cathedral in the rear-view mirror of my mind’s eye. I delight. And then the speed of Zagajewski’s short poem jolts me like a slamming car door. I’m a tourist and have seen a great thing by accident, and in passing, only as I am speeding away to my next destination. What have I missed by not taking the time to gain perspective with intention? When I see something luminous despite myself, do I speed on, or turn the car around and pause to let great things dwell in me for a moment?

Todd Breyfogle, Denver, Colorado

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