Moieties (Travellers note)
On the map cities stand out like wagons
drawn from the sea on the alpine back
of a farmer, like my father, who built steel
forty years and snuck in late, speaking English.
My polish tongue chokes, sinks, hook 'n all,
I am hysterically twenty - seven with a broken
word for every whole one - good as a mouthful
of nuts. I wear the map; tuck and knot it
round my neck till I am three or four or twelve,
blue for the sack that could've been armour.
I ride the back of a wild statue
while the head of a locomotive turns miles
to songs from the big, tight hearts of my
cousins. Cousins I lost as a fleet of steps
sailed one morning through Warsaw,
drowning them and other monuments of war.
The forest floor
I saw the Polish House
in the city
high boots of dancers
once branded the floor,
and I, small, in my inherited costume;
in the velvet waistcoat I snugly
wore, its ribbons
patted my back
like cats tails
as I danced with women,
my head up and open,
we moved in wreaths
across the floor.
Boys, miniature hunters,
leapt over flames
with axes of wood,
a peacocks feather in
each of their hats
as lookouts over us all,
while I, a soldier in a paper
white blouse, my skirt
a bloody hill red,
as music squeezed
songs my father knew,
I blew over the floor like a
wish he'd made...
in front of the Polish House
I hear singing
like a bell's dark ring calling down clouds.
We assume because we see
people in two's and three's
that they are not lonely.
Women ride bicycles
to a date in time, somewhere,
and we think they are not lonely.
On the bus people sit next
to at least someone
and they are not alone or lonely.
Girls in shops buy presents for lovers,
or friends, and they are settled and rounded
and sometimes literate; they are never lonely.
We see the people who walk
in ones walk toward each other,
something of a distant, converging two.
In a restaurant two people sit
at one small table
and leave not one lonely plate;
serviettes, crushed with
passion and thrown,
have had their function functioned.
On a mown sloping parkside dogs run
to people under a single stone steeple,
all avoiding its sharp single shadow pointing to who?
We sit and hit glasses together
to toast ourselves and assume we
are not lonely in the freedom of being ourselves.
See the drinker and the drink,
now the distant, converging two.
One side of the Ocean
My father and I visited the graves,
we talked without our throats.
Our hearts dictated the weight of
silence we'd carried with our home-
pruned camellias and ferns.
We walked past the lawn of children,
plaques close together, after finding
the right angel to lead us in.
I was proud of my father, so
businesslike in packaging his loss
into a few seemingly tidy words.
Of course he'd lost half a dozen
chances, one died in his arms.
There is nothing I can say to
relive those lives even though
they often find their way to me.
It is considerate to scrape away
the layers of old paint and moss
living on tombs. I have been taught
the art of this and also not to question
all the room in hearts - there are
at least two countries in mine,
plus a dividing ocean; the source
of all my tears.
My parents were movie stars; beautiful clear-skinned people in black and
white photos in front of a Mondrian curtain in evening wear. My father's
hair was rich and viscous, my mother's big powdery dimples pocked her
dusty moon cheeks. Ah the glamour of it all - - the spruce-tainted sweat
of my father (slightly nervous), the calcium in my mother glowed; what
healthy babies they had! Of course some children are always prone to
addiction, gambling and women. I, the least famous daughter, (producing
exercise videos and motivational tours), will guarantee that my parents
are somewhere out there gesturing, posing, laughing their way into old
age, toasting re-runs of their most famous moments, occasionally being
jostled by a crowd in love. Ah the glamour, the glamour, the glamour of it all.
The elements of one
In all the world, under the rain, through drafty passes and over ice floes
once a sea i have only one body to travel in and only one language.
Wanting to see in the mirror that I had the travellers nouse I looked for
trails under my eyes beaches on my lips. I searched in my bones for
artefacts, proof of my journey and that I existed in more than just the
mirror. It is true I was lost on the frozen wave of a mountain, turning
black, disintegrating. Had it not been the wind or gravity that made me
leave, nothing would. I was alone, existing in a lake of ice, tapping at the
world to see which of us was real.
All works copyright Maria Zajkowski