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).
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.