Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I Talk with the Lion of Danzig

I. On the old city wall of Gdansk--
Free Port Danzig-- the lion looks over his shoulder
watching for the return of an exiled king
whose name the townspeople still remember.

My history is not written
on the walls of any city. It's written
on the trails worn into sandy soil
by countless feet dragging shackles,
written on the hungry waves
that pulled down hulls full of living freight.
The names of my kings have been forgotten.

With the cold Atlantic ahead of me I asked
the lion of Danzig: Do you ever get tired
of looking back?
Isn't history a heavy load to carry?
He said, "I'm stone. I was made this way.
You can look both ways."

II. The weight of those stones resisted
cannonball and tank shell, riot and revolution.
Generations raised in their shadow
spoke a tongue unchanged from the Middle Ages.

I was feather-light, air-suspended
in transit between two continents,
fluent in a language I was not born to. I asked
the lion of Danzig: Did you ever want to learn
another language? Visit another country?
He said, "My job is here. I was made
to guard this wall.
You ask too many questions."

III. Leaning in the shadow of old stones,
the mellow warmth of stones in sun, the cool shadow
of stones in summer, near water,
I think of the lion of Danzig
who gave no answers.
I've learned not to ask too much from stones.
Though I still
have questions.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

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