A Benedictine abbey, the S of a river
Feathered by willows. The rural life
Placed on a platter, barns,
A church spire, cottages.
A farmer drives his cattle
Over water-meadows, geese on a playing-field like footballers
In 4 – 2 – 4 formation.
An atmosphere of grunt and mud,
A liquid greenness.
Mist rises; even now it’s not fanciful
To imagine it, laced with cyanide,
Leaking from Oswiecim.
The name printed on a sign: Isaac Bashevis
Singer country. Beards
Fashioned out of smoke, cloaks bellying over boots.
The streets reek prayer, persecution.
In Plac Litweski they play chess
Under ignored monuments: Unknown Soldier,
Union of Lublin, 3rd of May Constitution (1791).
Factory chimneys like embedded freighters,
The baroque and the industrial,
Watch-towers and crematoria.
They float now reminders of Majdanek,
Suburb ringed with barbed-wire.
In sudden gusts hands cling to hats
As if levitating. A cobbled,
Oil-lit city, the wind from the Ukraine.
Send Letters To:
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN
Please include name, address, and a telephone number.