Friday, 20 August 2010


I was here about five months ago, maybe six. In fact, this station derailed the whole project for a while. I couldn't get inspired. It was another crumbling shopping centre, more kiosks selling the same fast food drowned in oil. I sat at yet another pizzeria, ordered a coffee only so I had somewhere to sit and looked over the road to where I had been over a year ago when I came to Hůrka. The puzzle was locking in place, but I still felt as though I was forcing the piece.

I told myself I'd comeback when I was more in the mood. Then I had other things to write. 'Real' things, things that seemed much more professional than this blog. I had lost faith, interest, inspiration and it seemed better to leave, but at the back of my mind I couldn't. I knew I had to finish it off. There was no climax. Only closure. Even if the blog hadn't gone the way I wanted, I felt that I couldn't start anything else until this is done. This is the beginning of a start as much as an end.

The shops are still here, the same grease sodden food, the same sense of transience and torpor. The one difference is that the outskirts of Prague no longer recall the burbs of home. Perhaps, the comparison has been blunted by overuse. More so, these places have a distinct quiddity, which is in as much the architecture as the feeling. If you could erect a shrug it would look like this.

Yet there are things I didn't notice the first time - the statue of three birds, herons I think, with curving bodies and arrow heads, locked in a tumbling dance, twirling unnoticed above the people. Apples are growing along the footpaths. Back in April they had not yet fruited. Now there are several pink and green ones within reach. I grab the closest and take a bite. It's sour and hard, so I add it to the others which have been pilfered or simply fallen.

I also find splat berries. I don't know the real name and I'm not going to Google the info and pretend I do. The berries are white and about the size of a marble. I call the splat berries because people like to place them on the sidewalk and stomp on them to hear the satisfying pop as the berry bursts. Some people have done this and I do the same. It was a simple pleasure G. introduced me to when we started seeing one another.

There is also a second hand bookshop. I noticed it the first time I but didn't venture in. This time I feel more compelled to exhaust the station of its possibilities. From the faded popular hardcovers in the window I don't feel much confidence. It will probably be like the apple.

The inside is promising. Books are piled from the ground to waist height. More are stuffed into the bookshelves, sometimes two rows thick. The best find is a cabinet filled with these exquisitely small poetry volumes. Among them I found two collections from Nezval, one was a series of pastorals called Z domoviny (From the homeland). The other was a collections of shorter whimsical pieces featuring the suites Básně na pohlednice (Poems for postcards) and ABECEDA (ABCD) The latter were published much earlier during his more 'surreal' period. The former were more overtly socialist, which was not so uncommon amongst writers in the early days of the regime. Kundera wrote some utter bilge in praise of communism before he became well known for his 'scandalous' novels.

When I go to pay I have to find a break in the books behind which the seller has barricaded himself. He is a young anxious man, worn thin by his nerves. It is hard to follow if he is speaking to himself or me.

This trip to the bookstore has renewed my confidence in this blog and what this city has to offer. I had become too complacent. I had made the mistake of thinking that something was simply what it is and no tried to look closer. I had failed to live in the moment, which this blog is somewhat about. As far living in the moment, Nezval was able to put it more succinctly.

Každodenní básně
Gramofon pod okny hraje
toto jsou básně na pohlednice
zahřejí tě jak šálek čáje
když ti je smutno u srdce

Everyday Poems
The gramophone plays under the window
these are the poems for postcards
they warm you like a cup of tea
when you have sorrow in your heart

1 comment:

Vanessa said...

It's true, apples and secondhand bookshops have their similarities!
I am happy that you are going to continue with the blog. And it's true that a closer look is often all it takes to find what you are looking for.