You’ve gotta love this town.
This morning, after dropping Isabel off at school, I had an hour before I had to teach at 9 a.m., and I knew it would only take 15 or 20 minutes to get there, so I decided to take a walk from Jiřího z Poděbrad to I.P. Pavlova and from there just take the Metro one station to Vyšehrad. It was a lovely morning, which means, basically, it wasn’t raining or snowing. We don’t have high expectations about the weather here.
At Náměstí Míru I saw something I’d never seen before. It may be new or it may have been there a while. There have been many periods during my time in Prague where I would pass through that square nearly every day, but I haven’t been through it for a few months, at least. Near the bottom of the square, heading for the exit directly opposite the church, there was a brown, metal, rather ugly structure rising from the ground, looking like a rusty periscope. I guess the genre, since this was an art installation, would be Steampunk.
It was called a Poeticon, or Poesiephone, or something like that, and there was a row of buttons with names of Czech poets next to them, and a single brass button, as to a doorbell or an elevator, at the top. I pushed it, a red light went up and down the column, stopped next to one of the names and turned to green, and a sonorous voice came forth from the mouth of the periscope.
Now, I must confess that my understanding of Czech is pretty weak, in view of the fact that I’ve lived here 18 years, but I loved the concept, and I do call myself a poet, so I stayed to listen, and I caught something about ‘the wings of swans’ (a bit of a poetry cliché here) and something about the water flowing by, and the last line was either ‘sam budu sedět’ or ‘budu sedět sam’ or something like that. I will sit alone.
So, it planted the seed of a poem in my own mind, all about never stepping in the same river twice and sitting on the bank watching the river, which is both current, i.e. in the present, and eternal, because of the ambiguous nature of water, particle, wave, particle, wave, forever, and probably won’t have anything to do with the poem I heard today, but that’s all right.
It was still the coolest thing that happened to me today.