I knew my river,
But my memory still mixes its golden sand
With the squeaky quartz crystals of the Baltic.
Vistula: a grey bandage of coolness
Dressing the wounds of a forsaken land,
Where Vars and Sava lived happily once
And a mermaid helped them
To defend the city from Germans.
With shield and sword
She rose from the depths
(Otherwise inhabited by the somber
And mustachioed catfish).
I know, that story is too old-fashioned
For today's bombs and bullets.
Parochial, receding into insignificance,
My childhood monster: rzeka Wisla.
But I flew away and above. I saw:
Muddy browns spread in wide ribbons,
Murky waters telling tales
Of Old Man Mississippi
Flood the new lands.
Green embroidery coiled around the meadows
Like emerald snakes,
More luminous than freshly watered lawns.
Concrete paths weaving in and out of the City:
Beneath walls of graffiti
A tiny trickle brings leftovers
From the other season in L.A.
The diamond surface of the stream
scattering riches on smooth pebbles,
to disappear amidst dry twigs
of suffocating, cricket-laden summer.
I should remember: this is California .
I should remember: I'm not at home.