Friday, October 15, 2010

Wanting Poland

Here we are, half way through Polish Heritage Month, and I have a special treat for you. A cousin I met for the first time this past summer wrote a lovely poem inspired by her trip to Poland in 2005. With her permission I am including it below. Thank you for sharing this with me dear Carolyn!


Wanting Poland
by carolyn kieber grady 

stirred by a rhythm of wheels on rails
        mesmerized by flashes of Poland
                before the euro
                land of family farms
    one or two dairy cows tied
down with chain  and stake
        fenced plots in community gardens
left by Soviet workers
            flowering lilies
        lavender lungwort     violets
run-down stations
            poppies punctuating weeds
    little red exclamation marks in wild fields       
and along the tracks
starry ox-eye daisies march leaf to leaf

at times the past painfully whirrs
this land resisted
created the “free and equal” nobility
a parliament presaging
    values now held in the western world
        the world that has held me
for so long
trying to come out of my stupor
    I touch my lineage
a genealogy stretching beyond
        simple genetics
in a rickety first-class compartment
I drink to the Medieval Noble’s toast:
        “Let us love one another”
I am America but
I no longer feel like a foreigner
        as Zubr√≥wka vodka
distilled with the heady buffalo grass
from the Bialowieza forest
    sinks into my bones
    liquid fire burns sip after sensual sip
my heart splits
    wooden grain of tracks ring
        into light and longing
connecting with my ghosts
    and my grandmothers’ ghosts
the heartland of a feral country
wanting to sing but not knowing
the words to the song
        mile after alien mile
gazing out the stuck window
into recognition of  parallel lives
        the Polonaise mesmerizes
the triple meter resonating
lifts my impoverished spirit
wandering north
    half-lost in Malbork
         a thirteenth-century monastery
built by crusading knights
strong enough to defend against
    any invader crazy enough to scale the thick brick
        everywhere iron gates
and grace
here lay impenetrable
whose heart do I defend
and what am I protecting

dropping the warrior stance
I rest against the fortress
faint from the heat of the day
momentarily wiser and wordless     
carrying bags heavy with the cargo of the free world
        the old totalitarian regime has fallen
I try harder to draw
the landscape inside of me
sweet benediction
for the first time I smile
there are no worries in this world

drawn to Czestochowa
Jasna Gora — the Bright Hill
the Black Madonna’s eyes  
sad for centuries
her wounds unhealing
the Mother knew what was to come
she weeps and weeps
at Mass I kneel
beside girls in Communion dresses
        and moms with orange tipped hair
    familiar prayers in a language
        I don’t really understand
    I cross myself
buy another elm wood rosary
            count the decades and ask for help
        I say another Hail Mary
        finger wooden beads like a gypsy’s worn lamp
and find my way into this continent of hope
pushing from the green oceans

a heavy door cracks open
into a dim castle cafe
candle flames’ shadows play on walls
hungry again I order
borscht, pierogies, zywiec
    in the way food or a country can be
when prepared with care

entering steep Southern hills    
I float beneath clouds on the Dunajec River
in a hundred year old raft
through a granite gorge etched with eagle wings
                my flimsy umbrella pops open
rain batters and rocks
forcefully I swallow fear:
    there is another country
                I want to speak this religion
share my gods
        perhaps then this aching
    would soften
a world would begin        boundary-less

    the spirits of the past slip into this future
the stories of  this country
         mirror mine
                always the same:
        wanting         wanting

~ for David Citino (1947-2005)