Travels with Dad
II – In the Volksgarten (Public Gardens), Vienna
It’s been a while since
we’d been here – two generations have
grown up since we left,
left their impression on Austria’s landscape
like the Danube coursing the valleys
and plains, building, eroding, building, the travelers
return eons later
to a distant horizon of familiarity – the details, the edges different
and the only ones who can remember old landmarks
who can still give directions
are the old, like us.
Europe has evolved, EU flags
edge the sky-edge of buildings, shoulder-to-shoulder
with their old brothers, the colors of nations, forgotten empires
that creak in the breeze with romantic provincial rheumatism.
I ached for old anthems I'd learned there, it rained
that afternoon in the park, we took shelter on
the cramped temple steps that had seemed
larger-than-life to the boy I had been there,
and when it ended the
rainbow’s arch spanned
the blue-and-gold stars of the
flag overhead. The park we were in seemed smaller
than it had been from my stroller, the statues and Dad still
the same but older.
I marked it down
as the price of absence.
© Jonathan Bohrn (2007) ("Autumn Crossing")