Home Variety XXI. On Ryszard Siwiec

XXI. On Ryszard Siwiec

Ryszard Siwiec set himself on fire because he believed in a cause.

I love my clothing too much to self-immolate.

Am I a failure?

(Honour, Fatherland.)

Maybe it was hot inside all that red air.

Maybe he wanted to see if he could do it better than the authorities.

If I had a nickel

for every time someone put themselves through that task

I would have no money.

I would have no interest.

No one took any interest.

No one was interested.

(I protest.)

There, see, the man in the vest;

did he too see Poland as a flag at half-mast?

I have never been to Poland.

I keep to the backstreets of shitholes.

If there is a cause that can kill a man by his own volition

then perhaps it is worth the risk

(if it is a hero doing it).

Children that self-immolate are not heroes.

They are both urchins and martyrs.

(For our freedom and yours.)

Their martyrdom

is to remind us that the world is no longer filled with red air:

their air is black as soot

black as ash

black as cremation

black as Siwiec’s ghost.

forslu1@stolaf.edu