Letter to Hannah from Vršovice

This poem won Third place in the 2019 2-Day Poem Contest

         The city blooms early again. Pairs of girls

pose by the cluster of magnolias at the tram stop,

lift their chins to flowers big as tea cups. I walk

to our old apartment and look across the street

where the man used to stand in the window


        and take out his teeth, his face a quick

sinkhole. My father would say gnashers, gnathic.

I blow my nose and hear songbirds. I’m alone

and there’s no one to confirm my existence.

Yesterday at Vršovická zahrada, I ate pickerel


        on a stick and drank beer. My cold calf

brushed a woman’s leg. Her upturned face was soft,

expectant. It’s a different city without you in it.

Clouds are strung up like bunting. Easter: the boys

out to weave willow switches, to hit the girls


        for boiled eggs. Following the crowds

to Karlův most is a practice in patience, serpentine

through tourists. I’m slippery, a slick customer

in sunglasses. A guide tells a ball-capped group

of defenestration, self-immolation, how desolate,


        the dying in this city. Last night I dreamt

of a moth the colour of sea foam, ensorcelled

by its own reflection in the mirror. Do you

still dream of aging in a velour jogging suit?

I sit on my new window ledge, the way


        that made you nervous, and scissor

my legs. Imagine my falling body. Plan to buy

a big potted plant to anchor myself here,

to this place for a while. Forty minutes

away by bus is the gorge in Prokopské


        where the devil was rumoured to escape

through the cave ceiling, leaving a hump behind.

In winter, kids toboggan the slope and say, speak

of the devil. Is it easier to be the one leaving or left?

A friend tells me loneliness is good for poems


        but I picture you on the couch darning socks.

A flower on the sill left unopened. It’s comforting to think

there are clouds above your head. For your birthday

we hung one hundred balloons from the ceiling

with string. A little rain played against the window.

Published online August 08 2019.

This poem was a winner in CV2’s annual 2-Day Poem Contest. Every April, CV2 challenges players to create a new original poem that uses all 10 words of our choosing. It’s poetry under pressure for prizes, publication, and personal bests. Learn how to sign up for the next 2-Day Poem Contest.