Kinga (1224-1292) is the patron saint of Poland, honored for providing salt for her subjects. The discovery occurred when she threw her engagement ring into a local mine shaft, finding it a country away in a block of Polish salt.

A reluctant bride, I bring no sparkling dowry,

just precious salt distilled from Miocene seas –

power against the devil’s terror.


I want no kingdom, no spouse.

Boleslav and I vow chastity

until his death when I may become

the poor nun I’ve always been at heart.

I withdraw to cloister’s shadows, no monarch,

no one special.


But grateful miners, threatened by gas, collapse,

cold death in labyrinthine darkness,

shape me into a salt statue

at the bottom of the shaft.

Larger even than life, I’m crowned again,

my robe etched in scrolls, hair laced

about my face, more a goddess’ face

than this nun’s plainness.



My statue leans forward, palms open

to the salt miner kneeling before me.

He returns my ring encased in a crystal block,

(as if I could want such sparkling now).

Espoused again.


They also construct for me an underground salt cathedral,

with altars, crucifixes, rock salt chandeliers.

Illuminated like a manuscript, it tells my story

as they must tell it.



My pipe organ prayers go with them,

protect them through the zig zag kilometers

of the deepest tunnels.

Sainted, at their service.