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.