The Náměstí

“Have you ever seen the clock, at noon? Oh my.”

For I alone, among all mortals, have never stared at the contraption that makes everybody lose their mind. At twelve noon, I would always take care to stay clear of the mob. And yet, I wonder: mingling with tourists, wearing as a carnival dress that very same chit-chat that they beguile each other into, that very same amazement on prescription: why not?

Anyway, when you head for the river, you cannot but cross the Náměstí. Especially if what you want is steering clear of those entangled lanes, so unrespectful of your planned path even when you know the route by heart. And, of course, one can always be flattered by the truism that in the midst of the waxing- and-waning multitude no one cares about that merry andrew of an old flâneur, which is what I am become.

Not on a summer night like this, by all accounts, will they heed me: lo and behold, all those young males swaying their girls through a cunningly hidden agenda (which could be inferred, e.g., from how fast they slip amongst the narrow, slightly ajar, arches of Týn). As for me, this very night I have grown tired of the dull suburban concrete of my abode and walked all the way till the square. And now I am busy at crossing a few last alleys, and at getting closer and closer to the river.

But I stop short of the water. I can almost feel the river rubbing against the banks, against its bed; slowly; but I am hardly aware of the hills spinning faster and faster around the highest spiers of the Hrad, like a top. I can sense the pull of the water and my own giddiness.

And yet I turn my back upon the river, and stop in the middle of the Náměstí, and let my head rest on Jan Hus’ stiff feet, and fell asleep. I feel at home. At around noon, the day after, I will get up, with the sun on my face, and go and watch the clock and its wimpy wooden genies.

First published on Write the City, issue 3 (Legends)