A poem by Wislawa Szymborska
What needs to be done?
fill out the application
and enclose the résumé.
Regardless of the length of life,
a résumé is best kept short.
concise, well-chosen facts are de rigueur.
Landscapes are replaced by addresses,
shaky memories give way to unshakable dates.
Of all your loves, mention only the marriage;
of all your children, only those who were born.
Who knows you matters more than whom you know.
Trips only if taken abroad.
Memberships in what but without why.
Honors, but not how they were earned.
Write as if you’d never talked to yourself
and always kept yourself at arm’s length.
Pass over in silence your dogs, cats, birds,
dusty keepsakes, friends, and dreams.
Price, not worth,
and title, not what’s inside.
His shoe size, not where he’s off to,
that one you pass off as yourself.
In addition, a photograph with one ear showing.
What matters is its shape, not what it hears.
What is there to hear, anyway?
The clatter of paper shredders.
Translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh