Kamil Czyz

Patria Nostra, my family

Our Lady of Czestochowa

I love you Poland,
the commonwealth of half-acquired souls,
of doors adorned with white and red
and windowsills blossomed with seedlings and herbs
vulgarised by pigeons.
April chimneys colonised by storks,
lakes filled with copulating toads, thick with spawn,
grass beaming with chirping crickets,
plates full of potatoes and meat.

Shy rainbows smashed against sidewalks by nuns
and broken glass into colours of courage, love and sacrifice.
Sermon entwined with laughter trickling
through tightly shut doors, smell of fresh flowers
adorning naves and sound of naked ball bouncing against concrete
between parked cars.

Bare vestry walls filled with screech of stilled minds subdued
in exchange for soft sleep, for tearless nights of love and equanimity,
for happiness, for mortgage, for a day trip to the beach.
Rigged vote traded for promise of freedom and eternal peace.

I love you, the land of martyrs,
the home of great-grandmothers raped behind the barn
and of great-grandfathers shot in the forest
in the backs of their heads, their hands roped in infinite prayer,
and of grandmothers silently watching their mothers being led away,
and of grandfathers shot in the forest
in the backs of their heads, their eyes open,
of kids with smeared faces, of teachers with heavy hands,
of bread picked up from the floor and kissed,
of cross signed each time you pass a church.

A land of coalmines, shipyards, steel mills,
reinforced concrete, car factories, chemical plants,
trucks filled with screaming cows, chained dogs,
abattoirs. Unsmiled, shattered mouths and spit
cleaned from the face with dirty sleeve,
tall churches and proud, unforgiving god.
Pitch-dark mornings in half-empty trams lulled by patriotic thunder.

Allotments abundant with sun-kissed veg,
strawberries with cream and sugar, apple cake,
tenderness on folded blanket cocooned between orchard trees,
freshly mopped kitchen floor
and the smell of soft-boiled eggs,
tea with lemon and thickly sliced white loaf,
the land of eternal love.


About the writer:
Kamil Czyz was born and raised in Olsztyn, Poland, and he currently lives and writes in Gdansk. Recently, he has had his poems published in Detour Ahead and Coffin Bell Journal and few more pieces accepted to Multiplicity Commons, The Dead Mule and Chitro Magazine.

Image: Our Lady of Czestochowa (Black Madonna of Częstochowa), a sixth or seventh century Byzantine icon revered traditionally as the Queen and Protectress of Poland. The icon is also important in Ukraine.