Alex Rossiter, in Notes from a Polish Allotment, his forthcoming haibun collection of prose, haiku, and pencil drawings (Bored Wolves, June), recalls:
“Crossing the allotment patio to wash my brushes at the outdoor sink one morning, I saw to the southeast a plane descending towards Warsaw’s Chopin airport, and remembered how I’d originally made my own way, via tarmac and boulevard, to the neighborhood where we were to live. Surrounded as I was by the enormous idea of Poland, and the slabbed expanses of its capital, I found myself unpacking a need for gardens.”
Which Alex, in Notes, proceeds to do across twenty-one prose chapters, a sprinkling of haiku (“Poor scratching hedgehog, / what you sought you did not find, / here in the compost”), and two sets of pencil drawings specific to the book’s halves. The first half, “To Buy a Midnight Green Bicycle,” focuses on Alex’s arrival and early days in a gradationally grey Warsaw before a polychromatic transition to the second part, in which the author discovers the locket-like allotment gardens, a quirky Arcadian wedge of greenery in the heart of the city’s Mokotów district.
“Before long, in this place, I began to witness some of the most beautiful things you could ever see, and each was another tie to it: the ear of a dog flicking as it slept on the cool of a concrete path; an old man giving the gift of cornelian cherry stones directly into a pocket; in the shade of a vine on a hot day, the person you love slowly picking grapes; by the fence, in a scrubby border, nasturtiums from home blossoming consecutively, in different colors, one after another, for weeks on end.”