by the Night Writer
We’re going back to Prague, leaving early Saturday morning. Way too early. But on the other end is Tiger Lilly and a city that, in barely two months of total time we’ve spent there, has started to feel almost like home. We noticed this last fall when we returned; both my wife and I commenting how familiar everything looked and felt after our sojourn the year before.
Besides that, Tiger Lilly loves the place, to the point where it will be hard to let go when the time comes, and whatever has a special place in her heart holds one in ours as well. After a week with her we will be on to Budapest for nearly a month where I will open my “Hungarian Office”. I expect the blog will resume during our travels as we experience this old, but new to us, world.
For now, here are some of Tiger Lilly’s thoughts about the place that tickles her spine while it tears at her heart.
Getting Acquainted With the Republic
When I think of Prague, I think of the streets before I think of the spires. Uniformly uneven and covered in all manner of mysterious stains– best not to think where most of them came from.
When I think of life in Prague, I think of the birds before I think of the people. The pigeons and magpies are abundant, but birdsong is always present from dozens of unseen feathery throats.
When I think of the people of Prague, I think of my colleague before I think of the crowds. Reserve, or course, it’s natural to keep it to yourself — but not in revolution, and not in love.
When I think of eating in Prague, I think of the language before I think of the food. Straightforward and without too much subtlety, but come in, get warm, the wind is bitter tonight and there’s company (and good beer) to be shared here.
And when I think of Czech, I hear the language pouring from his lips in a rolling rhythm, spoken into the empty dining room or thrown in unmistakable curses at the pigeons. I hear the intent through the impossible tangle of tense before I understand the meaning, rozumiš?
Soles pounding a staccato heartbeat into the cobbled streets,
Stars swallowed up by walls and fog.
The city moans, howls, roars,
And I am headed home.
My veins rise from my legs like embroidery—
No, like risen trenches,
Too many nights spent standing
For things I believe in,
But don’t know how to voice.
Lord, let me forget there was ever
Such a thing as war.
Lord, there is something in my chest
Whenever I think about the city these days.
I am just another ghost,
Winding my way through the uneven lanes
Of a city already overflowing with them.
I have carved out my niche in eternity,
Made a home for myself in the afterlife,
And the city does not remark upon my passing.
It won’t be long before the city is the ghost,
Winding its way through unfamiliar lanes
And dark corners of memory,
As difficult to retain as smoke.
This time I am the one expected to carry on.
I hold the language like a handful of pebbles in my mouth,
Cut my teeth on every consonant,
Stumble over every syllable.
I do not know how to hold on to you.