Kraków in a Moment of Grace

after David Bottoms

Amen to the vendors from Kosovo who speak the language of blossoms
beneath the spires of St. Anne.

Amen to votive candles flaming to life, to shadows of flying buttresses,
Gothic spires fumbling toward Heaven.

Peace to the blind communicant, alone at home,
a shotglass at his fingertips filled with dust.

Amen to the old man in the marketplace, flower-frail,
who buys his biblical share of daily bread, mumbling himself homeward,

and to his wife, reciting her rosary
through the coalsmoke of a dim kitchen.

Amen to drunks pulling planks from a fallen house
to set them ablaze for the brief warmth they’ll bring.

Amen to the war widow on Stolarska Street who swears
she saw a sparrow slip beneath the closing lid of her husband’s coffin.

Amen to the young man who buys a woman a drink, though she won’t tell him her name,
leaving with him the cold scent of snow in her hair.

Amen to all-night wind that sweeps the roof beneath which I sleep.
And to the unknown woman who passes me without a word on the stairwell,

who in the room she heads for will lift her arms toward someone
who switches off the light, the room turning dark as if she were never there.

And now to that door, ajar down the hall
from where the singing and laughter always come, Amen.