Dancing from Warsaw to Vilna in Black and White 1. Witness
The sun today is a drooping eye its lid lifting over the horizon and then, in early afternoon drowsily closing again. The December stillness like an old monk resting heavy against the sliding door, and sighing crystals onto the glass. I read Transtromer’s poetry by dim lamp. A psychologist poet from Stockholm, one cure for this Fairbanks winter. I have never been to Sweden, but reading his words I think, this is a place I know meaning not only the darkness of days or the subdued sketches of forest snow at the town’s edge, but also those glimpses when the interior view adjusts to the psyche’s shadow, stirring.
Ada Acker slid through my childhood two-wheeling on icy cobblestone her ghost strolls through my night sipping Polish cocoa, breathing passwords to all the little locks In 1943, she outran the killers the rooms and the gardens pulled her tightly as if to say “she’s one of us” when blinking at the sea from the cliff she thought of the chipped blue teacup left on the bench and leaped I return to Warsaw there she moans as wind aching through walls calling to the other broken vessels of first light vanished to the center of my skull behind the One Great Eye, 2. The girl drags a trunk to the train a flight of words, whispers in the station café he touches her breast through wool she gives him her eyes it’s rainy but the butter sweet one hundred kilometers underground, red-hot magma flow loosening cobblestones by the booksellers market breaking the walls that border the park vows are always made at times like these, 3. The war began when I was five I had barely learned to talk in rhyme “We are here; we are here” was a ditty from those days sung with pistol in hand1 and Marysia, nightingale of Leszno Street, shone like a meteor with special light I’m herding tired people now to the elevator to a room where they’ll be safe then I drop into a hole and am no more all those I knew have passed with a shrug to the center of my skull behind the One Great Eye.
Burden of Sight
1 reference to ‘Zog nit keynmol az du geyst dem letstn veg’ (Never say that you are walking the final road), also known as ‘The Partisans’ Song’, is perhaps the best-known of the Yiddish songs created during the Holocaust. It was written in 1943 by the young Vilna poet Hirsh Glik, and based on a pre-existing melody by the Soviet-Jewish composer Dimitri Pokrass. Inspired by the news of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, the song was adopted as the official anthem of the Vilna partisans;
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