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Owens, Elisabeth, R. (ed.) / Encore: more of parallel press poets

Hilles, Rick
All Souls' Eve,   p. 37

Page 37

All Souls' Eve 
     Polish Military Cemetery, Krakow 
Dusk and so many flowers, lit votives, mourners 
who come leaning leggy baguettes on headstones 
with vodka shots, steaming containers of soup- 
some open their gifts directly on the graves. 
One woman, a friend, upends the local pilsner, 
her dead man's pleasure, and the piss-steam 
hisses a hillside specter. I'm here but somewhere 
else: my mind, racing, moves at the speed of dreams. 
The woman's son climbs from my shoulders 
and sprints the length of cobbled graveyard wall 
toward some inscrutable fury, becoming all voice 
-like the white-bearded cantor on Rosh Hashanah 
who for one vast moment arrived at a resonance 
I could almost taste 
as it held us alive and at the brink of shattering. 
Rick Hilles 
[forthcoming in Nimroal 
Poet's Statement 
I lived in a Jesuit monastery in the medieval city Krak6w, Poland for two
summer and fall-at the beginning of this century, and so much from that time
is still 
vibrantly alive to me: traffic sounds, shadows, the raspberry-stained hands
of street ven- 
dors holding their wares-here an orange, there a fat ripe peach!-so many
stinging the air. There was a sense of hauntedness I felt there, almost all
the time-in 
streets broadened to accommodate Hitler's tanks-and especially in the silences
of the 
old Jewish ghetto, the Kazimierz. On Rosh Hashanah I attended services at
the Remuh 
Synagogue, built in the tenth century. I'm told it is the oldest temple still
functioning in 
Eastern Europe. When I heard the cantor's ancient melodies taking flight
in that context 
for the first time, I felt that the centuries had been compressed. 

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