Praise and Poems
In Maria Jastrzębska’s new collection memory is a powerful and truthful tool, admitting fallibility and never exceeding its prerogative, yet evoking a whole world of tastes and smells, longings, anxieties and human needs. This is vivid, thought-provoking poetry that takes us by stages to the heart of the immigrant experience and leaves us with urgent questions which imperceptibly have become our own.
Maria Jastrzębska’s epic new collection is fabulous, audacious and compelling; here are dazzling conjurings of lost times and places, tremendously moving elegies, and astonishing fragments of intricate stories recovered from lost worlds. This exceptional collection is the work of a poet at the height of her imaginative powers.
What about the soldiers? What of them?
When the later ones came,
how did they seem to you?
They were grown-ups. I don’t know.
They had rabbit fur ushankas
and heavy coats.
Yes, they sat in the square. That’s it?
They wanted bread.
Did you give them any?
My mother gave me some
to hand them.
They were carving birds.
Out of lime wood, I think, because it’s softer.
I gave one of the soldiers some bread
in return for a wooden bird.
I used to run with it, my arm stretched
high above my head.
One of its wings broke off.
But all through the war, through grey sky,
over blue oceans,
over green lakes and rivers,
red dots of capital cities, brown bumps
of the mountains around and around
the astonishing globe we flew together.