A  R  T  S

written by Martin Stepek

On the train home from Oban
near Helensburgh with the Gare Loch gleaming
beneath summer green trees
in late pastel sunlight
I took out my photographs
of dad's family from Poland and Persia and war
and the letter from Janina
that includes her desperate words
"All of us are still alive."

Dad, like a schoolboy, in his Polish Navy uniform.

Grandfather, the early photograph of the radical revolutionary
then over the page in his last bald cancer years
with a firmness of expression
betraying fear of war that would come and destroy their peace.

Danka, staring like a zombie on Pahlevi beach
eyes devoid of life, just fifteen
in an oversized man's army shirt
then only a year later
her smile gleaming
dressed in Polish national costume
and floral hair braid in Nazareth.

Zosia looking
like Garbo in Polish uniform
complete with tie and jacket,
glamorous, she had cradled
a little girl
in Uzbekistan,
who within minutes died
Zosia's tears dropping on the girl's
soft face.

And Janina, God help me
Her eyes melancholy

as if she knew
one day I'd sit on this train
with her portrait in front of me
bereft of my grandmother
she knowing she would never know me

and yet through this time warp

we meet halfway

not quite able to touch
to talk
to say so much that needs to be said
about her, about me
about Dad and Zosia and Danka and Wladyslaw

not quite able to make the miraculous connection
that would have healed everything

but we almost got there
almost bridged the killing years
almost expressed exquisite love
and sorrow

but knowing we have to part
without that communion

till next time

till love again seeks to connect
what is unconnectable
but remains instead hope in the heart

and a series of photographs set on a page in my files

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