Panewniki*, mild autumn
right before All Saints’ Day,
like a perfect display window imitation
prepared in supermarkets for weeks

We are wandering through leaves,
sunbeams and breezes
from one Station of the Cross to another,
we walk into spider webs spread
among branches and crosses

The spray-marked Christ
has just fallen down
(“What’s wrong with him, mom?”
“It’s only grafitti, son.”)

Two homeless men trample
the bushes with scrap-metal
on their backs, weighted down
with their trophies

(“Wait, Simon”, murmurs the shorter one),
they stop and sweat – I pass them
without a word though I have a scarf
as big as the vernicle
… and so we reach the grotto
with the statue of God’s Mother inside

From a distance, we see a young monk’s back,
his brown robe growing suddenly
like one more tree in front of
the holy statue

We tiptoe closer, look at the figure
right in her face and glance around –
I casually turn back to see
(why? What am I looking for?)

The monk’s face, but all I can see
is his back fading into the landscape
and in front of me –
an ordinary plaster statue

He was here a minute ago
between the trees and the monk,
grafitti and scrap metal,
the figure and us

He spread his great web
which we totally overlooked
searching for the miracle

2 February 2007


Grotto of Lourdes in Katowice Panewniki / photo Krzysztof Blachnicki

*a district in Katowice, in Poland known for its Franciscan monastery

translated by the author and Linda Nemec Foster