What unknown man carved his farm out of the steppes
That welcomed all history in, between the Tatras and the Urals?
Years and years as if a silent sentry, and then my grandfather
Wore the colors in Pilsudski's Legions,
And before him, his father Augustyn, with no allegiance but the pope,
Never knew his country but in old men's burnished memories.
Thirteen, when my father lost his father,
And the rest of the stories that could have been passed down
Seeped into a legionnaire's last home,
Hewed out of the ground, expertly as only
A Great War veteran could have done.
Do I guard some flicker of the past,
Coaxing it to flame with borrowed breath
And still a peasant's cunning,
Cross myself in the Roman way,
Snap to some pale imitation of attention,
Due to my grandfather's devotion?
Or does every faint line or idiot's thrust
Stem from swallows of vodka and a peasant girl's scream,
Spirit and stain mixed centuries ago?
Simone Weil's Dream
Simone Weil dreamt on her pallet
That Plato thought her talk like poetry.
Opposite, the Tree of Life bowed down its branches,
Children capering in its leaves,
Fruit-devoted limbs grazed the ground,
And rotting apples lay in heaps.
Even beggars like us could feast for days,
But Simone Weil died for want of food,
And the flies could scarcely find words for God's bounty.