NOVÉ BUTOVICE / MARTA
You showed me the exit,
the one that lets out on the pond
just in time to see the train glowworm
through the overpass to Hůrka.
I can’t say what made it look so alive.
Probably it was the pleasure you took
in watching it arch its back
between panelaks—a hundred lit up eyes,
a dragon rolling over in its sleep.
There we could say anything out loud,
away from those men standing on chairs
shouting poetry in the old city.
There we didn’t even have to drink.
Laughter hung little clouds from our mouths,
but we didn’t feel cold.
ROZTYLY / MARTA
The forest was unpronounceable,
the kind of name you could fake
with a cough — Krčský. We were lost,
you said, because the ground was changing
behind us wherever we went. Look,
the path goes downhill, and if we turn back,
it’s downhill that way too. We sounded out
the landscape in the same strange language,
pausing for the view. You told me about a friend
back in Chicago who made a scientific study
of your pleasure, how bald men are better in bed.
You stressed the importance of hands
when giving head. I quieted. Eventually we fell
out of the woods onto an empty highway
we called Nebraska—what else
could be so flat, so not quite foreign?
STARÉ MĚSTO / MARTA
Does this door make me feel smaller? you asked
in the museum. I loved you. It’s true,
it was a very large door. A palatial door. I loved
how you didn’t know your own edges. Later
on the bridge you announced that it was raining,
and it was, we could see that, but it didn’t feel bad,
did it? It didn’t. So we kept pressing through
the narrows between Narodní Divadlo and the square,
where at night the buildings fold into the streets,
shuffled like cards and set up in different places,
which was why we always got lost there.
We found the river, stopped for hot wine.
The moon grew three full phases in an hour.
ELIZABETH GROSS left her heart in New Orleans and part of her spine in Prague. The rest of her lives in Brooklyn for the moment. Her poems have appeared in the New Orleans Review, The Prague Revue, Versal, and VLAK, and in the anthologies The Return of Kral Majales: Prague’s International Literary Renaissance, 1990-2010, and Why I Am Not A Painter. She teaches writing and literature at Hunter College, and also works as a literacy warrior for a full time remedial program out at Kingsborough Community College.