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