The marble is veined – he says –
Like human skin. It comes from Carrara,
A mountain in Italy. I’ve heard it is pure white,
Like snow in the Alps,
Its side wide open, a curtain of alabaster.
You cut it into even slices
One – two – three –inch thick, whatever you need.
The slices are symmetrical. The veins,
The patterns repeat from one slice to the next.
The marble block opens up like the wings
Of the butterfly . . . smooth, elegant, pristine…
He stops, looks up. The marble mountain –
Too far away from the concertina wire
Splayed over the top of the jail fence.
Its long spikes shine above each locked gate,
Cement block wall.
An artist’s work – he says –
Look, they labored so hard
To place the metal spikes perfectly even,
So close together, you cannot grasp it
With your bare hands…
His fingers move gently
Caressing the marble he remembers
In the stagnant air behind bars –
The butterfly wings of freedom.
© 2012 by Maja Trochimczyk
Maja Trochimczyk is a Californian poet, scholar, translator, photographer, and non-profit director from Poland. She studied musicology at the University of Warsaw, Poland (M.A. 1986) and sound engineering at the Fryderyk Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw (M.A. 1987). In 1988 she emigrated to Canada and in 1994 she earned her Ph.D. in musicology from McGill University in Montreal. After a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (1994-1996), Dr. Trochimczyk joined the faculty of the USC Thornton School of Music as Director of the Polish Music Center (1996-2004). She also received a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies (2001-2002). Since 2004, Dr. Trochimczyk has continued her research and music history activities as an independent scholar while becoming active as a poet and publisher, as well as working as a development director for healthcare and human service organizations in Los Angeles. She is Senior Director of Planning at Phoenix House in California. She serves as Board member and Officer for the Polish American Historical Association and as President of Helena Modjeska Art and Culture Club in Los Angeles. For the years 2010-2012, Dr. Trochimczyk was elected the Sixth Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga, California.