In 1984 I decided to learn the lines to my favorite Ewa Demarczyk song, Pocałunki*. I sang it over and over, throughout the rise of Solidarność and the reigns of Lech Wałęsa and Pope John Paul II, born Karol Józef Wojtyła in Wadowice, Poland. Margaret Atwood was writing The Handmaid's Tale in Berlin at the time—West Berlin, that is. She was carefully copying the oppression of women of color onto the shocked bodies of white women, making her point. 1984 was also ... well, you know.
So I began breathlessly chanting the words to Pocałunki in the shower and on long trips driving Chicken Shit, our '66 Chevy. Later I sang it to my baby daughter, leaving out the middle rant, just the quiet parts.
Ewa's singing is like Mutabaruka's, intensely political yet overwhelmingly winsome and romantic at the same time. As evocative and poetic as Dylan Thomas and as angry and polemic as the back cover of a Bob Dylan album.
A few months ago the mayor of Gdańsk, Paweł Adamowicz, was stabbed to death in front of crowds of onlookers. In the birthplace of Solidarność. Survived by his law professor wife and two daughters. And all the workers he had gone on strikes with, all the people who believed in him. Did I say this happened in the birthplace of Solidarność?
Yesterday my diaphragm remembered trying to breathe in the dark, trying to keep really quiet ... Lecz widać można żyć bez powietrza ... "You see one can live without air." I know the feeling.
22 MAY 2019