Kraków/John Berger

Let’s go and see the pigeons,Ken says, polishing the thick lenses of his glasses with his tartan handkerchief.

We walk towards the northern end of the market.  The sun is hot. One more early summer morning added to the pile on the century’s desk.  We watch two butterflies who came to the centre of the city with the garden vegetables fly upward in a spiral.  The clock on the city cathedral strikes eleven.

Every day, hundreds of Polish visitors climb the spiral stone staircase in the bell tower of the cathedral to look across the Vistula and to touch with a finger the massive tongue of the Zygmunt bell, cast in 1520 and weighing eleven tons. Touching it is said to bring luck in love.

We pass a man selling hairdryers.  One hundred and fifty zloty each, which means they have probably been stolen. He is demonstrating one of the dryers and calls out to a passing child: Come here, sweetie, and I’ll make you cool! The girl laughs, agrees and her hair fluffs up, billowing. Slicznie, she cries.

I’m beautiful, Ken translates, laughing.

Further on, I see a crowd of men huddled together…

(From Here is Where We Meet, Pantheon)


About Taline Voskeritchian

Writing teacher at Boston University; translator (from Arabic and Armenian); prose writer; occasional editor; incurable wanderer.
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