Eating Chrusciki in a Marian Year

Tim Kahl shares a poem about polish pastries and the pope

We drive all night through the drizzle

to hear Latin ring through the streets

of Hamtramck. The Pope’s pavilion towers

above the blue-collar bungalows and we stand

our ground in the vacant lot so next morning

we can see John Paul II talk about

solidarity in his Dracula voice.

Andrzej, the Krakow post-doc, is lost in the crowd

among the banners and balloons,

and I’m standing with my soggy shoes,

eating my last chrusciki from the little bakery

on Joseph Campau Street. They call them

angel wings for the uninitiated,

but for the diligent dzia-dzia and bushia

they are the branches broken off trees.

With each bite the choir is rising.

They reach their full-throated roar

as the pontiff is laying hands on

the bishops of Michigan, blessing them

on this site that will one day become

a Farmer Jack supermarket, blessing

their overcoats and the brims of their hats,

thanking them for the spiritual bouquet

which seems to be shivering along with

the rest of us. The hunger for salvation

marks the frozen throng of followers,

but all I have is the powdered sugar

that covers the black glove on my hand.

I shake my napkin and return a few

more sprinkles to the soil. My prayers

rumble inside of me. The chrusciki

speaks from the pit of my gut to

the man of good news, the man of

the moment in this Marian year.