An Old City
by Laurel Benjamin
I’m standing on a street corner in an old city after dark
where no one appears after midnight—
no couples arm in arm coming from a drinking spot,
no bicyclists, no streetcars.
A black dog enters the street, dragging his owner
who struggles to hold strands of other dogs,
and with one hand steers a baby carriage
the motion a shuffle along cobblestones.
The next morning, daylight and hummingbirds,
green shiny jackets too fine for the sun,
too bejeweled as they suck juice from hotlips sage.
I have gone out to look for arrivals and departures but can only
find them in memories of other places—
the time in a Paris department store
I fell into a chair from low blood sugar,
camping trips with Michael
where we read Indian Tales to each other.
There is no between now—
only here and there, as if we are occupied,
as if we are countlessly alone.
PHOTO: Saint Barbara’s Church, Kutná Hora, Czech Republic. Photo by Michael Kršňák, used by permission.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am haunted in dreams by the towns I visited in the Czech Republic, especially in the dark—like Kutná Hora, where it’s quiet.
NOTE: Kutná Hora is a town in the Central Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic with a population of about 21,000. The center of Kutná Hora and Sedlec Abbey with its famous ossuary are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the most important buildings in the town are St. Barbara’s Church, begun in 1388, and the Italian Court, formerly a royal residence and mint, built at the end of the 13th century.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laurel Benjamin lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has appeared in Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down: An Anthology of Women’s Poetry, California Quarterly, The Midway Review, among others. She is affiliated with the Bay Area Women’s Poetry Salon and the Port Townsend Writers. More of her work can be found at thebadgerpress.blogspot.com.