What are you doing here, poet, on this
Sunny morning on the third day of May?
Here for the first time by the Vistula,
In a park at the fountains:
A tourist-poet together with
Your daughter, now your guide –
For she is living here.
You know a little of the history
And you’ve seen and felt something
Of the diffidence in some faces
When you apologise, in English, for not speaking Polish.
To get here you walked through the Old Town,
Stopping to visit the cathedral
Rebuilt from the ruins the poet Milosz mourned,
And you saw the parade of very important people
And the cameramen and the big screens in the square
And the armed forces with shining bayonets
And the security men in their black suits
And their shining black sunglasses
And their sanitary distance from the masses.
But here now at this playground fountain in the sun
With its tricks and spurts – now full blast,
Now dormant, now lobbing arcs of water from one
Side to another – the children are laughing
And learning and you and your daughter try to capture
Their and their parents’ joy,
And in these words.
For it is a joy to see the young live and learn
Even when truth and justice,
And the constitution on its day,
Are not what they are supposed to be.
It is also a quieter joy when you see in growth
The pain and the shock
All borne and learned,
The young woman in reception
Had recommended the fountains
Enthusiastically in her good English:
No diffidence there.
And though the clouds came shortly after
And it rained and the thunder clapped a bit
And you were as wet as
The children of the fountain,
It didn’t matter –
For you and they, and we,
We are living here.