She climbs out onto the slanted roof,
wearing a black dress and a copy of Faust.
A tall man hides behind the drainpipe,
making silent movies of her turning the pages.
She falls asleep--
red shoes shoved against the gingerbread,
draped in the shadow of the Prague castle.
Carved under her darkened lids is a lithograph:
Kafka’s black hair & black eyes.
The spire drifts over her,
his image shifts--
jaw softens &
The tall filmmaker lights his pipe.
He does not have a sister.
He does not know that her softness is the
fear behind a boy’s shy angles.
It is raining when he returns.
She still sleeps,
face wrapped in the blackest wet hair.
He is comparing her to the blue smoke
curling mysteriously up from
He watches her through the café window:
red scarf, eyes fixed on the old clock,
thin fingers stroking the
smallest glass of pear brandy.
It is dusk when she sighs, stands,
& mounts her bike.
She is surrounded by dwarves as she rides drunkenly,
through the crooked streets of Prague.
Thursday at 12:30 you made tomato soup.
The silverpot steamed in the black kitchen.
Just one candle
& three pieces of macaroni.
We ate in your room
which was black too
except for the pale drops of stray cars through the window.
I felt your face next to mine.
Friday at 10:20 you made spaghetti.
You did have the early David Bowie albums
so we listened to those
& I sat on the topbunk
watching headlights float down the street.
The cars don’t realize how great it was
when you poured in Ramen spice
instead of sauce
stirred softly near the sink.
The CD switched to Leonard Cohen
Chelsea Hotel came on
& we ate it all with one spoon
since you had no forks.
His wide mouth wavered.
The smoke curled,
blue & black separating
in an Adriatic-eclipse.
If I am the Red Sea,
his hands are volumes on Taoism
with sixteen missing pages
& carved-out hollows
& typed poetry.
In the shadow of the wall he takes out his violin.
The sonata is something familiar & foreign,
& the bow in his thin olive hand slowly pulls
red from the strings--
strict softness that curls under cracks in the mortar.
He knows I am kneeling on the other side,
wanting to be fed.
He plays until the lamp switches
& the last window turns.
I press my face to the wall
& hear brown paper unfold in the dark.
I am hungry & he slides
slivered almonds through the hole.
They are slices of his fidelity,
bleached to a weary translucence.
ELIZABETH WINDER reads Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Andre Breton, Rainer Maria Rilke and Czeslaw Milosz. She has been published in a Gluestick Special Edition and Gallery.
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