Maria’s eyes were black as coal;
And, her face looked like a road map.
Although, back then, she was not very old;
she had a warm and loving lap.
Maria came over from Poland
during World War II.
She came to live with a family in our town –
to care for an elderly lady
who had a bout with the flu.
Maria’s English was broken.
We tried to understand as she talked with her hands.
Polish, of course, was not spoken
in this little Alabama farm land.
I was just a child
but remember so well
how Maria would sometimes babble and moan
almost like an animal gone wild.
She had a story, you see, a story to tell.
Maria would hug me and point
to a pot-bellied stove.
Dropping to her knees,
she wailed her tales of woe.
As it seems, Maria had a daughter about my age
and a husband that she had loved dearly.
She had so much emotion and rage
as she tried to explain to us what happened to her family.
Maria was in a strange land.
She no longer had a place to call her own.
The language was hard to understand –
but there was no mistaking the pain and suffering.
It was in her tone and chilled to the bone.
I think the Nazis took her husband and child;
her life as she knew it was over
and it would be a very long while
for poor Maria to ever recover.
We loved Maria, all of us in our sleepy little town;
and, Maria loved us back, but mostly me.
For, without being so profound
I reminded Maria of someone, you see.
She brought me candy and hugged me close.
She picked cotton in the fields right next to me.
She held my face in her worn hands
and for a moment, the pain within was hard to see.
I will never forget you, sweet Maria.
I can still see your smiling face.
Today, you are re-united with your family;
and, together, at last, you find peace, in a special place.