4, on page 124 and the end of 5 (mermaid reference)

October 20, 2009

(words from my main polish grandfather, czeslaw)

i wanted glory, fame, and power.
but not just in one city of modest renown.
so i fled to countries whose capitals
had boulevards lustrous beneath incandescent lamps
and, here and there, the outlines of Ionic columns.
(i did not learn to value the honors one received there.
a sandy plain showed through every form.
so i ran farther, to the center of Megalopolis
in the belief that there was a center, though there was none.)
i would have wept over my exposed delusion
had the custom of regretting our offenses been preserved.
at best i would prostrate myself
and turn to my silent retinue:
tell me, why should it be me, why exactly me?
where are the others whose love was real and strong?
should he remain faithful who didn’t want to be faithful?

i made a pledge, what kind, i don’t remember.
i wore a silver scout badge, then a gold one.
i took an oath, in mystical lodges, in underground assemblies
swearing by the freedom of the people, or perhaps by brotherhood.
i wasn’t to be obedient to my slogans or my chiefs.
some lazy earthly spirits from under the roots of trees
had obviously made other arrangements
having a little laugh at the expense of my morals.
Engaged in weighty discussion on killing for the common good
my clear-eyed companions glanced distractedly
as i passed their table, a naive lute player.
and while they sat at their chess games (the winner was to execute the verdict)
i believed that they were taking part in the tournaments for fun.

how i envied them: so magnificent,
so free from what i guarded as my shameful secret:
that, like the mermaid from Andersen’s tale
i tried to walk correctly but a thin pain
reminded me that i was foolish to try to imitate people.


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