Postcard by Christine Evans

‘Any kind of shape makes this a lie’.

If this were a film…
Long shot of approaching train.
Martial music. Cut to faces.

But it is only another planet, and Poland’s
Most successful tourist attraction.

Poplars screen the furnances
But the view is mostly what our parents might have seen:
Blank horizons, scrub struggling into leaf
Pools of scum reflect a coffin-lid sky.
Wind from the steppes moans round the crumbling brick.

If this were a novel
It would be cathartic recollection
In a hotel bedroom or smoky fifties café
Pages of blocked monologue
Somewhere towards the middle.

A youth stands guard over a small fire of litter.
Curling headlines, chocolate wrappers, a child’s red glove.
Flames here burn thin and cold.
If this were a nightmare
We could hope to understand ourselves through it.
We flock here to look and shudder and walk away
Stunned by embers.

But the rows of bunks are rough as cattle stalls,
Limewash homely as the barns of childhood.
(Even in the interests of authenticity
You could not expect them to expect us to endure
The smells of fear.) Wire at the windows. Clenching cold.

Cleaners’ brooms and buckets rattle.
There’s an irritation in the eyes like ash.
Sulphur from the smelters in Katowice:
Dusk thickens early in this poisoned air.

If this were the history of a civilisation
It might be a footnote, towards the end.

Warm the light, with colour, the tourist buses
Are pulling out. This is only one stop
On a crowded schedule.

by Christine Evans

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MrHearne

Russian and Welsh poetry. Updated every Sunday. Also reviews of literature, films, theatre, food and drink, etc. Any support or engagement is appreciated.

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