I Patted a Hedgehog                                                                       —Lidia Kosk (trans. Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka)

                        Gransee, 1980

At the outskirts of a German village
like a Landschaft embroidery
a hedgehog paused as if frozen in a frame
in his armor of upright spikes
which he gently laid down upon my touch.

I patted a hedgehog at the outskirts of a dusk-wrapped
German village. In the background green
fields sown with wheat, woods where tanks
stood at the ready―post-war props
with soldiers from the East, guarding.

I patted a hedgehog, his spikes at rest
without awareness deeper
than the mood of a summer's evening
idyllic landscape and the silence in which
people can peacefully go to sleep.

Memory Tapes

I stand on the tarmac at the airport in S.
There was a small country station out there,
where the train tracks end.

Suddenly on an airplane, all by myself
I fall into the seat by the window that opens
onto that landscape.

I see a train on the tracks and what happened
long ago; I sense the wind touching petals
of tiny white daisies, and their scent.

The girl on the steps of the train car
buries her face in a bouquet. Only the boy
offering the flowers is missing from the tape.

And before that was wartime. I touch my travel bag.

A tilt of the plane reveals dim woods, a country station,
a ribbon of road, and a girl on an old bicycle. Above her
fuselage of a metal bird with swastikas on its wings

and sharp eyes of the German pilot shooting at her.
The thrust of the lowering plane pushes her bike off the road
hands of the knocked-down girl reach for the handlebar.

The memory tape stops.
I would like to bury my face in the bouquet of wild flowers.
I want to free myself of childhood war memories.

Lidia Kosk
Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka

Lidia Kosk, a poet, storyteller, educator, photographer. Author of eleven books, and two anthologies. Collaborated with her husband, Henryk P. Kosk, on the two-volume Poland’s Generals: A Popular Biographical Lexicon. Her collaboration with the poet and translator, Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka, resulted in two bilingual volumes: Niedosyt/Reshapings and Słodka woda, słona woda/Sweet Water, Salt Water. The Japanese edition of the second book appeared in 2016. Her 90th birthday is celebrated with a publication of Szklana góra/Glass Mountain, a rendition of her poem in twenty-two languages. Her poems, translated into choral compositions, have been performed in several countries. Website: lidiakosk.wordpress.com


Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka is the author of Oblige the Light (CityLit Press, 2015), winner of the fifth Clarinda Harriss Poetry Prize, and Face Half-Illuminated (Apprentice House, 2015), a book of poems, translations, and prose. Translator for two bilingual books by Lidia Kosk, nominated for translation prizes. Editor of three books, most recently Szklana góra/Glass Mountain featuring Lidia Kosk's poem in twenty-two languages. Co-editor of Loch Raven Review. Website: danutakk.wordpress.com

ISSN 2472-338X
© 2017