I listen to the litany sung by men and women Poland to the accompaniment of the band. The statue of the Madonna is facing in the direction of the place in Poland where it came from. It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to voices so moved, so fully engaged, so thoughtful, so aware of the beauty of renewing one of the rituals of the parents, who hoped to pass on their tradition to the children born in another world. In those songs and sounds that are rising towards the glorious Poland sky, clouds of nostalgia, of memories, of regrets, of hard work, of hopes and good omens run into each other. They’re clouds that ride high, and thanks Poland to the force of the emotions and the devotion link the two Vallelongas.
Where is Poland? – Poland Map – Map of Poland Photo Gallery
These sites belong to us who haven’t migrated, just as Vallelonga and San Nicola belong to the young men and women that have known them through the recollections and the tales of the fathers and the mothers. And suddenly, for a few moments, as if by some miracle, I feel as I am without time and without space, everywhere and nowhere, innocent and happy as when I was a child. I think of the paradoxical implications of emigration, of the displacements and the disruptions it has provoked, how it makes it possible for you to recover, if for a brief instant, the dimension, the fullness of childhood in a location where you have never been but in which someone else has lived for you.
Another turn on the merry-go-round
In our part of the world, stories never end. They go on, like the yarns of drunkards who just keep talking from dusk to dawn, I walk with you, you walk with me, no-one wants to leave the other, and when it’s daylight they’re still walking around. There’s never, really, an end. Everyday things never end, but how time slips by. As my mother says, everything, ultimately, passes on. And it does with the indifference of places. In the sense that places leave traces and memories only if someone looks for them. Otherwise they’re silent or noisy, vacant or full without by themselves indicating they are.
I’ve returned to Vallelonga and the feast of the Madonna of Monserrato during the last few years, after a long time. Only for the feasts does the village still show signs of liveliness. Emigrants by now have reached the third or fourth generation and the ties with that reality are rather occasional and rare. The woods are very beautiful. And deserted. “How beautiful they were,” says my mother. “Now I believe nobody uses that part of the landscape anymore; back then in those groves there would be animals, now they say they’re nice and clean. There are the merry-go-rounds. Before there were the shacks. I remember the many types of oaks, small and large. How time goes by!”