Volume 14:4, Fall 2013
Prose Poem Issue
Queuing for Lenin
Cooing. Pigeons. Moscow hotel. The dream. I am waking up in my green room to the cooing of doves in the crabapple tree and the scent of hot cocoa topped with froth of egg whites. Sunday breakfast treat of my Polish childhood. It’s the day of the giant whale. The whale, talk of the land-locked town. Blue circus tent, people pushing alongside something huge, dark. Perched on my father’s shoulders, I am a blue-eyed, flaxen-haired question mark: where, where is the whale, where are its eyes, is it alive?… Dressed up, I get on the subway. On Red Square the queue is endless. After days on trains from all over the Soviet Union, the citizens wait and wait. A foreigner, I make it to the short foreigners’ queue. Inside, people progress at a constant pace in the silence of granite chambers. Blue sparkles in the black stone vaults. Shivers of anticipation. Guards with weapons. Measured pace, no slowing down, no whispers, hands down at your sides. There he is. The column of people walks around the three sides of the glass case in respectful awe. He is small in the yellow light. Dressed in a dark suit, white shirt, a tie. Eyes closed. No stopping, moving on, moving on. Out on the square I face the crowds waiting under a huge red banner: Lenin forever alive.
Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka is a scientist, bilingual poet, writer, poetry translator, photographer, and co-editor of the literary journal Loch Raven Review. Born and raised in Poland, she arrived in the USA in 1980 on a postdoctoral fellowship. She is the author of two books: Face Half-Illuminated and Oblige the Light, the winner of CityLit Press's fifth annual Harriss Poetry Prize. Kosk-Kosicka is the translator for two bilingual poetry books by Lidia Kosk: Słodka woda, słona woda/ Sweet Water, Salt Water (Astra, 2009), and niedosyt/reshapings (Oficyna Literatow, 2003). Her translations of poems by three Maryland Poets Laureate—Lucille Clifton, Josephine Jacobsen, and Linda Pastan—have been published in Poland; her translations of poems by Lidia Kosk, Ernest Bryll, and Wisława Szymborska have appeared in over 50 publications in the USA. She is a founding member of the DC-Area Literary Translators Network.