WORDS FOR THE PARISH OF ST. STANISLAUS KOSTKA
ON THE OCCASION OF ITS NINETIETH ANNIVERSARY
I awake to the sound of water rushing north,
Past my window, as the moon, tiding in the bay,
Pulls the Hudson and pushes barges carrying wheat.
I see a sea gull diving for a frightened fish.
Down below, in the garden, a scent of lilac
Draws me. Forsythias yellow the humid air.
I watch the skywriting of Monarch butterflies.
I hear the glad ringing of the church’s bells.
For it it is spring, at last, a time of the land’s Easter,
A resurrection, the egg breaking its shell.
The black Madonna, the mother of watchful God,
Broods no longer; she knows her son has risen.
Ninety years ago, on these verdant hills,
A group of earnest Polish immigrants
Erected a church and parish, honoring
A Polish saint, a man of solemn piety,
Who loved both God and his great creation, man—
St. Stanislaus. The congregation grew
Through generations of war and prosperity,
Births, weddings, holidays, and funerals,
Encompassing in dramatic communion
All the folk of Hastings, of America,
Under the shepherding of learned priests,
From Dworzak to Daszkiewicz
And Pinto to Wenceslaus.
The bells are ringing, the children are singing, life
Is basking in the splendor that is spring,
The promise of return that the millenniums bring.
Note: Stephen Stepanchev is Professor of English emeritus from Queens College. He is a former poet laureate of the Borough of Queens and a Hastings-on-Hudson resident.