The Market in Ceske Budejovice
(and how things get there) - Part 1
Imagine Ceske Budejovice at the center of a soap bubble blown by a child standing at the fountain in Samson Square. She would hold the wand slightly above her mouth and to the right, and the bubble would stretch to the west as far as Zlin, where Tomas Bata built his famous factory, and a particular grandmother lives, to the north as far as Prague, and to the northwest to Olomouc—since both cities are known for their astrological clocks. It would rise above the monastery where a stone frog marks the time to the end of the world. It would change shape as it went. It would gather and exclude.
Oh! Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon
Tell me, Ramón Fernández
do you like these shoes? These shoes
that make the cobblestones clink
like little bells, like market chairs
on cobblestones that caught the heads
of traitors on this spot marked with a cross
in the fifteenth century—don't step on it—
that catch now wet rabbit hearts
and doves. Nothing in this market
equals the intense fragility
of this country—not this little bit of black,
not this hole a bullet tore.
They are selling
dirty spinach, carrots reaching down,
turnips blushed on top.
But desire at the end of winter
is something else again: zlaty dest—
the flowers called golden rain that spin the sidewalks and
the banks, that drops us from our breath.
You can cut their branches, bundle
them over your shoulder, hold them
in the crook of your arm. You will be scratched
and will scratch. And you can catch your breath.
They will bloom in the heat of a room. You can
sell them or buy them. And you can catch
the ten-crown coin that falls from
the finger-nails of women. That is
your change. On the train they paint them pink.
Tell me, Ramón Fernández, do you like
pink? Their eyes are blue. The woods are green
the autumn mushrooms yellow bellied,
where you press your thumb they bruise. That's why
they're called modrák. Some are called babicky, grandmas.
I have one of these. She lives with a dog
she ties up by the shed. On her laundry
line scarves and skirts and long-john
legs. She gives us slivovice
in the morning and says "humpf." There is
a strange movement of animals. She was
beautiful as a girl. Breathtaking
really. She was barefoot.
She wore boots.
Author Discusses Poems