Leaving Vienna

The rain stops in mid-air
to apologize for falling and turn back
toward the passing clouds. The cold
blows into its hands,
raises a collar against the wind
and joins the crows as they spread
their wings as wide as fate.
The lady who spends her working hours
at a table at the entrance
to a public lavatory
scoops up small coins to give back
to people at their exit. All the market
vendors who ever cut a larger portion
than what was asked for
give away free samples
and the laughing uncles tell their jokes
for a final time while
the uncle who once shook hands with
Adolf Hitler still sits resolutely
at the head of the table. In the corner
bakery the old lady
in her Loden coat who once
described foreigners as being the worst
pretends she didn’t mean it
and doesn’t wait to pick up her change.
The aunts who grew up as sisters,
lived for a while at opposite windows
and called across the street
above the traffic daily,
won’t speak to one another and when
they speak of others it
is ugly. Goodbye one
and all, goodbye to the echo
when the house door is closed to hold
history at bay, goodbye bell
on the last tram of the day
and goodbye horse drawn milk cart
turning the corner at midnight
clipping and clopping and pulling
stars behind it.

David Chorlton lived in Vienna for most of the 1970s before moving to Phoenix. It was an exchange of wind and rain for the desert heat and a cultural shift. He has a non-fiction book published this year that tells the story of a 1961 murder near Vienna, for which one of his cousins was wrongly convicted. That is "The Long White Glove," from New Meridian Arts. Read other articles by David.