This poem was written entirely from a memory of walking across the Old Town Square to the Tynska literarni kavarna in order to have a subjective picture in mind to bring out only the pictures that stay in memory. Only the vivid images that can be remembered are considered to be worth remembering by our minds, that is why I wanted to avoid coming to the square and writing about something I see with my real eyes. I would much rather remember with my inner eye. Perhaps that is how some people find Prague to be magical – they look back at the memory through their inner eyes, not like a Czech walking around the Old Town Square every day which takes away the feeling of it being precious.
From the Beginning to the End – the Journey of a Hungry Poet of Týnská’s Sanctuary
Sparkling sunbeams stalked by shadows
welcoming willingly willful whispers where
the old houses line up as soldiers listening to time’s solitude.
On each corner, spectral eyes1 – watchful –
safeguard the legacy of the past and the present;
You can almost see their lips move in protest.
A fragrance of flavors flutters through
the places where ghosts slept,
inviting you for a taste of hot red wine…
A memory following the past events – veiled:
the Square coated in a Christmas atmosphere;
fairs sweets, presents, smiles…
A decoration next to a decoration on a giant Christmas tree;
like predators, native and foreign tourists circling around;
In order to catch their souvenir prey to bring back home.
A prayer from the Godless, yet not without faith;
the Grim Reaper2 laughing at people’s foolishness,
while angels3 bless it and wish a Merry Christmas.
Bells ringing among other bells;
weddings, holidays, burials, fires;
all on the archaic, precious clock4.
A church among churches – all time’s conduits;
like singing choirs, reaching for the sky;
each pipe in an organ has its own voice.
A koruna falling to a hat of more – rattling;
the endless sad tale
of the very same man kissing the holy floor.
Tiles composing a taciturn, mysterious mosaic;
supporting the fragile and transparent crystal stem5 which sheds
rainbow colored light on the sober, faded reality of the Square.
An alley finding its demise here among other alleys;
From the above, as though all threads of a spider web
would find their center here, wooing trusting insects to be glued.
A king with a queen used to walk these paths;
Now, sitting in an invisible panopticon,
they became the watchmen of the living in the Old Town.
A tourist on a tourist – ignorant;
ants herding in colonies;
their flashes startle the history away.
Jan Hus among the other bleak figures Obliviated6
from the collective mind; stagnant like flamingos sleeping;
motionless and frozen in their time – those handcrafted faces.
A cross across 26 other crosses7;
there they crossed the Styx river8 –
a crucial fiasco for the rebels.
A tower next to a tower – humongous yet humble;
A brick on a brick, layered, mapping a path;
each layer laid by a different hand.
Cobblestones’ conundrums – shining, wet, lonely;
in the eyes of history, making the whole puzzle;
you can read different tales in each.
A step after a step – painful though ameliorating;
the sands of time passed through;
while having the Old Town’s Square behind their backs.
An old house on another house – sighing;
seeing life flash before their eyes;
remembering each signature of people passing.
An antique sign next to a modern –
like a grandpa passing on a folklore to an offspring;
finding out that Prague, though wearing different coats, has been the same.
A stone on a stone – arching, inviting, promiscuous;
a passage of time – a wormhole9;
they will let anyone through.
A wall entwined with another wall – warm, loving, enviable;
a love that is eternal, never wavering;
upon entering Tynska, they kiss you together.
A breath after a sigh – a laugh after a sob – bittersweet;
seeing the collage of life in this rocky road;
makes you wonder about each piece.
A doorway embedded softly in a grandparents’ heritage,
framing this kaleidoscopic painting
showing how different times influenced this street.
A doorknob confusing guests by its shape – circular, obsolete10;
The perfect camouflage for the chameleon that greeted
all kinds of people, artists, writers – no visitor will be new.
A push followed by a click – metallic, rusty,
A shove followed by darkness that transitions into
the everlasting conversations, warmth and light of a sanctuary.
1If you look around, it seems as though the houses would possess eyes even more so when there are sculptures on their façade.
2Refers to the Grim Reaper on the astronomical clock of Old Town’s Square.
3Refers to the 12 Apostles on the astronomical clock.
4The astronomical clock.
5Using the image of famous Czech crystal glass.
6A play on a charm from Harry Potter, where Hermione uses the spell “Obliviate” to make her parents forget her existence.
7There are 27 crosses on the Old Town Square that symbolize the deaths of 27 aristocrats that were fighting on the side of Protestants (Hussites). After the Battle on the White Mountain, they were executed and it became the start of the 300 years of Hapsburg rule over the Bohemian lands.
8The river dividing the world of the living and the dead in Greek mythology.
9Along the metaphor, this stanza refers to the actual place on the way to Tynska Street from the Old Town’s Square, where there is a stone arch.
10The doorknob on the door to Týnská literární kavárna.
Photo of Flick user Boris Tylevich