Tuesday, July 13, 2010

a poem, finished

So I had been working on this poem for quite a few years, since 2003, the fall before Milo was born. I was pregnant, living in Maine and had just formed this fantastic and vibrant writers group. We kept up through the winter and then a few of us ladies stayed in contact and kept on having writing group until I moved back here to Philly. But that time, while I was gestating, proved very fertile and I planted the seeds for this poem, Prague Flood August 2002.
This spring I was lucky enough to head back to Maine and attended a writers retreat sponsored by the Wife of Bath. It was fantastic and one of those lovely ladies who I wrote with all those years ago, attended the retreat. I workshopped that poem and finally feel like I have finished...I have never struggled with a poem like I have with this one.
The Wife of Bath was having a summer issue about travel and I submitted this poem. Chris even submitted a postcard he cooked up, that if I ask him nice maybe he will let me post here...
but this summer issue is not to be. The Wife has bigger fish to fry and hopefully will be back soon with the literary mag.
So without further hoopla, fanfare and the like, here it is.

Prague Flood, August 2007

3 nights, after the rain
the Vltava has not receeded
flooding its ancient banks
and low lying neighborhoods
houses unloose their bricks
elder trees, set free from the sodden ground
tumble into the river
the flooded Zoo has emancipated its animals,
seals rolling in the current
trying to hide beneath the shadowy walls
of the stone bridges

we creep cautiously
through the dark evacuated old town
roaming alleys
using our hands as guides
on the damp and crumbling walls

once familiar passages
have become blocked by hulking shadows
dark looming figures in our paths
I trip twice and stumble
feeling the wetness of the furniture
tossed out from the depths
of watery cellar graves

in the absence of light
sounds come louder and closer
the sloshing of water
a far off siren wailing
than quiet
the brush of a large body into stone
an elephant's feet crushing wood
a furl,
flute light on the air
than running footsteps
shouts I cannot understand
and my own breath
coming faster
seeking refuge
amongst the dark and steeped city

& in our hast
we are looking for that secret place
where we've heard the fiddle call
it is known for its beer
which miraculously still springs forth
from golden fonts
the smell of smoke and food is growing near
as we stumble & search & hope
& deep within Stare Mesto
lit by candles & propane the door beckons
here the people are among the broken chairs
but the floor is dry
& the music plays
& we have found asylum
for our rain weary souls.

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