It’s half past four in the afternoon in Prague
on the rise of the Bohemian Basin. You’ll be
counting bird after bird until you hit 50,
wet on the B.C. coast and will be for months.
Next door a woman believes a man sleeps
in her attic, materialises downstairs to cut
her hair at night. Police are summoned
to discover a homeless man in a dumpster
with houseplants in his hands. In Vancouver
the trees that surround you peel away
from themselves. Streets run into the ocean.
In Prague life is seldom still. Harvest moons
spawn shape-shifting nightmares. Kafka’s head
in its square, revolves. Did I tell you
the morning Papa died
the air raid sirens sounded, unscheduled?
Out the window I watched women
walk dogs, unhurried, and decided to not
be alarmed. Sat through the heady looping
in the kitchen trying to understand how
to manoeuvre the days to follow.
Learning the sirens mourned the passing
of a firefighter felt fitting too. I sat through
the afternoon and into the night, unable to conceive
of bombs falling, or his stilled hands. Watched a light
go out across the way, as it had the night before,
and the night before that. Nina Simone sings under
the long horn of a reversing truck and I balance a cup of tea
while writing you. I moved 8000 miles
to stare at the same trees: maple, linden, false acacia.
Alison Braid is a Prague-based Canadian writer. Her work has appeared in Bad Nudes, The Puritan, CV2, The Maynard, Poetry Is Dead, and elsewhere. Her poems have won Honourable Mention in Grain's 2018 Short Grain Contest, and been shortlisted for CV2's 2018 Young Buck Poetry Prize.