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