Poem of the Week | June 23, 2014

This week we offer a new poem by Brandon Lewis. Lewis lives with his baby girl and wife in NYC. He received an MFA in poetry at George Mason University and was recently a finalist for the 2014 May Swenson Poetry Award. His writing is published or forthcoming in such journals as Spork Press, apt, Spinning Jenny, Salamander, Poet Lore, NOÖ, and Fifth Wednesday.
 
Author’s note:

“New Town” grew out of the first time I met my father-in-law in Prague. The city was new to me and as we walked I was fascinated how he could still grip on to some memories and not others. Her father and I studied each other, and there was much unsaid between all of us. So there was this constellation of intimacies and distances to feel-out between the city, my father-in-law and my then-fiancée, memory, and my fiancée and I.

This poem belongs to a manuscript, The Conduction Trials, that began with a focus on inventor Nikola Tesla and that took me to Charles University, Prague, where he studied. Of course once I found out that I was a dad, my exploration of an inventor turned more and more into questioning what it meant to be a father, or simply a creator figure.

 

New Town

Past the bridge from which to see the bridge
where the road menders stack cobblestones
into an undulant library, your father
recognizes the fountains he played in

 

during Nazi annexation. We maunder
with your familiarity, his, and the overlapping
of half-fictions that dot the city
beneath the castle. Never do we find

 

the address where Faust amended
his fate, or the wires of Edison’s ghost phone
attempting a bridge to death, or
Tesla’s moustache hair pressed in a book

 

deep in the Klementinum. When discussing
illiberal America as we climb Vyšehrad,
your father will again confess to an undefined
dementia. The bridge of his nose will flare,

 

disarm, and you must forgive again
that in place of your mother he appendaged
this history, stone, and tongue.
The other, unadorned bridge is all the more

 

radiant. As the letters of marauding Europeans,
one’s memory takes liberties—the difference is
in the crumbling. How the fantasy of gold trails off
into the synapse of a childhood memory.

 

You bring a handful of local vegetables
to the river and we sit without parents and
their histories, washing our carrots and radishes.

 

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