by Neil McCarthy

      “no river is a river which does not flow”

                 Louis MacNiece/Autumn Journal



Quiet but for us, the Danube's dim mirror was

disturbed in her sleep as we swam naked through

the shadows of the furs tilting in the clean

summer wind.


In Heldenplatz we hollered opera to the dome

and heard the sound of hooves in the echo; the

rapturous applause that time would later condemn

to silence.


We cut through Volkgarten to stop for a piss,

shouting from behind trees about poems that would

need to be written. If you were Gustav Klimt then

I was Graham Greene in need of inspiration.


And by Christ I looked for inspiration. I looked up

and down Ringstrasse, through the bustling parks in

the First District, up and down the steps of the

metro at Neubaugasse.


I imagined naked the girl at the bar in Café Carina,

her skin surrendering tattoos her parents would

never have approved of. She lit a cigarette and

dressed herself in God.


At the market I looked at the old men selecting eggs

as if their hands could see through the shells. I looked

at David Rynhart's fingers, gently picking strings

with the same selective deftness.


I helped you up a ladder onto a rooftop and watched

as you stood there, proud as a lighthouse, inspecting

the ferocity of morning's fire blazing its westerly trail.

There were three of us there.


And I looked five years deep into Marie's eyes and got

lost until you pulled me back out. Do you remember

that Stephen? Do you remember that view with the

Danube stretching and waking not too far away?


I remember thinking the seasons are arriving later

every year, as if the world has been slowed by the

weight of graves. Or maybe she has simply become

tired of turning in her sleep,


or lying awake though a night of endless alarms

that nobody bothers to turn off.