Title: Poland

Author: Jenny Bornholdt

In: Sport 6: Autumn 1991

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, April 1991, Wellington

Part of: Sport

Keywords: Verse Literature

Conditions of use



    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Sport 6: Autumn 1991




On the night train to
Gdansk a woman travels
with a kitchen sink.
Young Polish people laugh
over the phrase book—
  Are you free tonight?
  May I have this dance?
  Can I take you home?

It would be difficult
and expensive so we
take the offer of a ride
in a small Polish car made
of particle board, run
on diesel, home
to a house with invisible
bedrooms where the father
—a surgeon— makes
breakfast, washes cutlery
as if it were
surgical implements


They say our home is
your home but we do not
recognise the furniture.


page 28

Wake to the sound of
Poland and without knocking
another anniversary
comes through the door to
shake your hand. Here's
the ocean to commemorate
the start of World War II.
Mass at the shipyard for
ten years of Solidarity.
This street means the
death of six men and they
ran for their lives.
This door a man passed
barefoot on his way home
in the snow after giving
his shoes to a dead man
for burial.


Marry and
remember the dead
with flowers.


People grow up out
of the ground. When
the bells sound
it is their hearts
ringing out through
the country.


On the train to Warsaw
a Polish man asks
if I have ever been to
Salt Lake City, Utah
page 29 he just wondered

and had I noticed that
the phrase book omitted
the most important phrase
of all—Excuse me—'now
isn't that extraordinary'.


At the station everyone
speaks Polish or
German. Three older people
use sign language
an arm curves five
fingers a tongue
his mouth opens wide
for train or come
or later you can only
guess and her hand slices
air as cake— you the
uninvited member of
the party.


Churches where
the bones of saints rest
in loose arrangement
—knuckle to toe—
and two streets over
Chopin's heart lies
beating time
to the streets
of Warsaw.


page 30

Where an ankle
is a pear and you
will queue hours
for it.


Pilgrims Regulations
of the Groups '17'
in the Warsaw Pilgrimage
to Jasna Gora:

Anyone who seeks the Truth
can become a Pilgrim.
Anyone who:
  Follows the aims of the
  Warsaw Pilgrimage—
  inner transformation,
  a personal meeting and
  union with Christ and
  his mother through God's
  Word, penance and
  prayer, in the Eucharist.

  Has registered for the
  Pilgrimage, has got the
  sticker and the programme map
  of the Pilgrimage route.

  Women and men must not stay
  at night together in one
  place, especially in

page 31

A Pilgrim needs to have:
  his/her documents,
  a few sets of underwear
  two pairs of comfortable shoes
  that fit well, a sleeping bag,
  a tent, a rain-proof
  coat, toilet articles, dry
  rations—canned food as well
  as the Bible, a rosary, a
  Pilgrim's song-book, a prayer
  book. Pilgrims should have no
  valuable articles.

Each Pilgrim should have at least
four bandages and an
elastic one,a plaster, a
bottle of salicilic spirit
a pot of cream as well as
talcum powder or powder for
feet and any medication used
daily by the Pilgrim. The
Pilgrimage Health Service
is at work during the walk
and at lodging places.


In the carriage is a group of
Spanish men and one Pole. They
have been to Russia. One
of the Spanish men has been
to New Zealand and swum in
Oriental Bay. It is a very
beautiful country he says.
Yes yes you say, but
you are looking out the
window for a man who earlier
jumped off the speeding train after
page 32 an argument with the guard. I
flew up and over Mount
Cook   he continues   yes
you say and turn to him and
never see the body or
shape of the man pressed
flat as a country in a
sea of grass.