MetroScene usually avoids the heavy problems of international relations you can amply read about elsewhere in this paper. But the persistent report that Poland's leaders may soon lift martial law and see American sanctions eased has a poignantly local angle.

My source is Bryson Rash. If you don't recognize the name, you obviously haven't been around town very long. Rash, now retired, was probably Washington's first universally recognized television newsperson (for NBC and its local affiliate, WRC-TV-4).

To his everlasting credit, Rash never allowed the cosmic reporting of global and national events to obscure the fact that his viewer/listeners were Washingtonians. He became a walking repository of local lore.

Which, roundabout as it may seem, brings us back to the Polish situation. Rash has written a book ("Footnote Washington," EPM Publications Inc., $7.95) that contains many anecdotes, including the one that follows about Ignace Jan Paderewski, a Polish composer, pianist and statesman.

"With his country controlled by foreign armies in World War II , Paderewski became president of the Polish government in exile," Rash wrote.

"He died in New York City in June 1941. Because his body could not be returned to his native land . . . President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered that he would rest in Arlington Cemetery and be returned to his homeland when Poland was free.

"To this day the body of Ignace Jan Paderewski rests in its sturdy oak coffin in the little crypt in the marble base of the Arlington Cemetery memorial of the Battleship Maine," which had been sunk at the outset of the Spanish-American War.

"Poland," Rash concludes sadly, "is not yet free."