Radka Thea Otípková


The line! Keep it taut,
he shouted
to no one, and ran upwind,
his arms inexplicable
to whomever was looking
out of the bus window on their way home.
The field sloped away and disappeared
into rosehip shrubs. I remember not being there to see
the red and yellow delta spin towards the ground
from too much breath,
but I can imagine the bridle going up, the eyes
pinning the beast to the sky, the mouth
filling with a fresh batch of incantation.
The bus stopped, I think, and people poured out,
baffled by their heavy hearts,
and not one of them, not one
thought of the kite.


“It´s easy to take photos
when you have no talent.”
Josef Sudek

At night I become his missing arm.
The one he lost on the front, looked for
years later and didn´t find.

He never spoke when he showed me
his photographs. And I never
more than gasped
at the rubble of noon,
the light breaking
an egg.

Sometimes he would wait
and wait
for the light
to cut through a cathedral.

His left eye, I remember,

was rarely entirely open,
rarely closed, as if that pensive slit
couldn’t help composing the streets
of cobblestone and warm arc lamps
into geometry of shades,
white over grey over black.

At night I become his missing arm
and hoist the camera on his unused
shoulder, the other bank of him,
a nettle-grown foreign land,
and begin to learn the man
all over again.

RADKA THEA OTÍPKOVÁ started learning English as a young adult and has not stopped ever since. Her poetry has appeared in B O D Y, The North, and Tears in the Fence. In 2017 her collection was shortlisted in the Poetry Business International Book and Pamphlet Competition and her poem “Coup de Grâce” was shortlisted in the 2017 Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition. In 2019 she won the Waltham Forest Poetry Competition.

Read more by Radka Thea Otípková:

A poem in B O D Y
Another poem in B O D Y