Maria Stadnicka - Three Poems from "Somnia"

Maria Stadnicka


I went out to town and took pictures
of people in queue at the shopping mall.
A third of them had been there since Friday;
pilgrims and parents in search of new praying beads.

They sat on the pavement holding
their thoughts between knees. The sun
kept quiet in its corner and watched
the autumn busking outdoors
when a beggar stopped, asking everyone
for directions to the nearest abattoir.

Nobody knew precisely where the roads led,
but smiled back through the surveillance cameras.

Lieder for Two Pianos

          to Clara and Luca

At first, I counted heartbeats,
checked for sudden changes
in atmospheric pressure
when something told me
you slept too close to water.

Your cries squeezed
the cords of my flesh
until milk-tears would burst.
The primal hunger kept us awake.

With time, I started saving
my last mouthful,
half-swallowed lullabies found you
growing hazel-eyed whispers inside my body.
In crowds, I walked ahead,
my palms sheltered your dreams.

The waters came one night
and touched your back.
The candle’s tip turned off
the promise I’ll keep you safe…
those words before a door was shut.
Time knew you’d leave by morning.


Point Blank

At the end of each day,
you climb into bed
and cover your face.
Our bodies fuse,
resemble an owl
trapped under floorbaords.

Somewhere out in the world
bells ring announcing a burial
but the gravedigger's already left.

Summer is taking over;
meadows expand
beyond our reach. Too late now.

copyright © Maria Stadnicka, 2020