The William Gilmore Simms Prize
The struggle of man against power
is the struggle of memory against forgetting.
Russian tanks painted
after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Dvorak in Symphony Hall.
"Amazing Grace" on the corner.
left by invaders
whose time had run out,
strung up for all to see
on makeshift clothes lines
high above the street
jostling with freedom
in the bookshop on Wenceslas Square.
I gave you my copy of A Farewell to Arms.
You took me to your classroom.
She will help us with our English.
I spoke of Western books and writers,
wrote Kafka’s name on the board,
but when we heard footsteps
coming down the hall,
your students’ eyes
grew cold, turned absent.
You closed the door.
I erased the board.
Did we expect it to be easy?