Refelections: Walking in Warsaw

By: Shayna Zema

A cacophony of sounds
I hear some shouting
Like the horns spouting, driving around the palace
While others whisper delicately, almost getting lost
Like Providence spring’s new gift of frost
Noises in the bustle of urban streets and buildings
Which have paved the voices into the city

Red bricks on Próżna speak of what once covered them gritty
Their debris silently screaming of the horrors they witnessed
and proudly proclaiming the celebrations that once filled their walls

Square buildings are uniform, in stalls
homogenous with their windows, colors, sizes, and shapes
Yet their story is different than the modern glass enclosure flanking on the left
and the renovated pre-war structures to their right

The Old Town is anything but old, despite
Its renaissance men, horse-carriages, and details rife
Yet its absence is presence
the empty square is full of life
each cobblestone calling out to the feet that walk upon them
endeavoring to share their thoughts and write them down
tales of a burgher market and town
tales of medieval and modern values and views
and of course tales of Poles and Jews

Space is alive, living and breathing
Entering Plac Grzybowski
I see the plaque of memorialized history
and turn to see a man jumping through the space
snapped into a photo to be preserved in place
standing together at the site of the past
by bringing it into the presence of the present
and thrusting it forward into the future at last

Voices stand together in a paradox
Jewish and Polish & Polish and Jewish
Pre-Soviet, Soviet, and Post-Soviet
Medieval and modern
pre-war and post-war
yet they all chant together in unison for
a cacophony of sorts to explore
whose message
fills me with a sense of belonging
of joy and of curiosity
to learn more
and journey forward to understand the “before” and “after”


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