I. I look forward to our new common work. You must also continue with your research – how proud I will be to have a doctor for my spouse when I’ll only be an ordinary man.
I love a boy in Zurich and he loves me back;
though he knows there are women way
I'm sure that they
don't limp into filled lecture halls
or bury themselves in libraries
with a head full of dreams.
They don’t haunt others
With their ominous wings,
or have fireside discussions
with him, laughing in the dark.
He's my knight in shining armour
with a walrus moustache,
the first one who's looked
at me with respect like that.
He says our love is the absolute truth:
We never provoke each other into fights.
I find solace in his letters about
missing our fireside chats,
even as our families threaten
to disown us:
we'll build our own world
beyond the reach of philistines:
Lord Albert of yore and the Queen
of the Night.
II. I need my wife. She solves for me all my mathematical problems.
My father fought every battle
to pass me the keys to classes usually
locked away only for the boys. He saw in
his quiet daughter, a thirst
to learn, so
he made her his little soldier
and asked her to fight.
I faced high expectations
from the men in my life.
I tried to do them proud,
and worked very hard at that.
I nearly graduated top of my class;
then the Professor in the oral exam
deducted my marks.
My fatal mistake:
Then I got pregnant
after a lovers' escapade
and had to give away my daughter
before her father could meet her.
Her newborn face is vague
behind the veil of the past.
I remember though, that
she’d inherited his eyes.
I hope she's grown into a
a beautiful fool
I do not have much time
to think about that these days:
Albert's a clerk now,
I've settled in as his wife.
We spend our evenings discussing
special relativity until
it's time for the neighbours to sleep.
We write papers together in the night
but he mails them out in his name.
He calls it our joint work privately
But it's better this way:
we are but two sides of the
same stone; his name is but
an extension of my own.
(A woman’s name in his paper
might cost him a better job,
even if she really did all the math
on her own.)
III. Have you ever considered, even just for a second, that nobody would ever pay attention to your words if the man you talk about had not accomplished something important? When someone is completely insignificant, the best they can do is to remain modest and silent. This is what I advise you to do.
I lay down my dreams at your altar
thinking that we were soulmates. I
have nothing left of me
to give you now.
So tell me,
did you cheat on me with your
cousin as I toiled away in forced
domesticity, looking after your sons?
Did you move to Berlin to be closer to her and away from me?
Did you betray me, who stood by your side back when nobody knew you
or thought you were right?
(I entreat you,
treat your other woman better than me
when you leave her to move on to your third wife.)
I can unravel your myth with the snap of a finger:
The man, the myth, the sensation that I helped create.
I leaned into your every word and cross-checked your papers; I did so many experiments
without ever taking credit. I stayed awake in the nights for you
while you slept. I believed in every promise that you
(I hope you give her the happiness
that I sacrificed.)
Yes, I am insignificant,
but you made me so!
You and your world, always
closing doors right before I reach them,
giving me promises, then
sons to look after, giving me
kitchens with their sinks overflowing,
redefining my dreams and trying
to switch my paths, then
disappearing like hope
when I need you the most.
How can you live with a clean conscience
after leaving me alone to fight this
losing battle against myself
and you, and this wretched world?
(Give me back the future,
give me back my past!
Give me back everything
that I shredded and erased
for you, my love!)
IV. When Mileva will no longer be there, I’ll be able to die in peace.