Niobe at Nieborów, by Stephanie Kraft
Niobe at Nieborów
A Roman bust of Niobe, said to have been found on the coast of the Azov Sea, greets guests at a palace near Warsaw.
and cries of terns at dawn--
like voices of your dead children--
what clocks of stars measured
your ages by the sea
Music echoes in the tiled hall--
a fugue of swans and snowstorms
wars and harvests.
From the towers of Nieborow
Aries and Capricorn caress
the opulence of her cheeks
the stone fruits of her lips
but Niobe remains
a planet ringed with sorrow.
on lilac buds
beside the long allée
what cuckoo’s song
or pomegranates from the orangery
could comfort you
passionate mother of the dead?
Architects, builders of palaces,
and musicians from their measured arts
bring joy. But Niobe’s wounds
ponder the algebra of our winters
equations of ice dissolving in the void
algorithms of ancient tears
on the shores of new seasons.
Stephanie Kraft was a newspaper reporter for forty years. One of the highlights of her career was an opportunity to travel to Poland, where she witnessed the end of the Communist era and the economic renaissance that followed. She has published translations of two major Polish novels and is currently at work on a third. Her poems have appeared in Christian Century, The Prose Poem Project, Dappled Things, Cold Mountain Review, and Sky Island Journal. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.
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