Poetry in the Park

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.

namesti miru

A different piece of art at Náměstí Míru, which means Peace Square

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.

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