At one end of Karlov Most, situated under
the grand arch for five hundred years, a small
hotel named U Tri Pstrosu is tucked into busy
foot commerce, stone threshold worn down.
Solid oak beams support hand-hewn planks
laid above each etage. There are five floors
at U Tri Pstrosu, each ceiling of rough timber
supporting the floor above, all reached by one
spiral stone staircase covered in worn carpeting.
Our room on level three overlooks the famous
bridge; we could eavesdrop on conversations
through our casement window. Larger-than-life
pious statues lining both sides of Karlov Most
faded charmingly into evening fog our first night;
by the next morning they are silhouetted against
a yellow dawn breaking across the Vltava River.
Lying in bed, I wonder about the one who once
had painted primative roses on the overhead spars.
About the one who had emptied the chamber pots.
Or hand-scrubbed ancient bedsheets on river rocks
scattered along the nearby shore.
A medieval city completely intact, Praha buildings
share common walls and front directly onto narrow
cobblestone streets. Often there is a green courtyard
for the family (who lived upstairs) secreted behind.
Today, centuries-old palaces, churches and mansions
snug between storefronts offering tourist souvenirs.
first published in Poetry Atlas
©2013 Bonnie Manion