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Black Hole Open

I passed through a black hole once, in midsummer. I wanted to see the end of the road.

I've heard that nothing about black holes can ever actually be proven.  The equations are all there but they're  impossible to solve, because the physics is all warped -- sealed beneath gravity and light, in math we can't translate.  No physicist, no astrologist, no Steven King  has any idea what really happens when you pass through, because nothing comes back out again.  And it's so dense, so absolute in its course, that its a punched tunnel straight through the space-time continuum -- you pass through and you're dropped into another time, dimension, universe, etc.  The ultimate highway, hiding place, escape route. Find yourself wandering in, you won't come out. And if there's no coming back 

out, there's anything and everything on the other end. It's a cosmic flipturn  -- digging a hole to China. A disappearing act. A magic trick, like all physics.

I don't have any answers. If physicists can't explain any of this, neither can I. But all these ideas don't sound so far-fetched. More than anything, they make black holes seem human. Possible. A time warp, a vaccuum, a problem with no answer,  -- aren't we on to this already? Where the hell are my keys? Or how could I have forgotten your birthday ? And, very most pressing, where’d all the time go?


Little did I know, just around the road bend, the tunnel would break into summer sunlight with a brand new view of the Vltava.  But I wasn't on the other end; I was on this one, staring at this vacuum in the cliffside like an open wound. Who's to say it wasn't endless? 


Its located under Prague's Ruins of Libuse’s Bath. Here, allegedly,  a millennium ago, the existing King married the Princess Libuse who, dissatisfied, snuck away to the baths time after time to meet her lovers.  From there, they would escape to the river together and never be caught, right under the King's nose. Whether or not there was a tunnel under the cliff at the time, who's to say -- but I imagine this place a thousand years ago proving itself the ultimate hiding spot for a woman who simply wanted to cheat on her husband in peace.  A Black Hole, if I've ever met one.  A collapsed marriage, turned in on itself, provided its own way out. And what better place to hide your infidelity than an all-consuming space vacuum?

I passed through it that afternoon, and light hit me in the face. No new century, no new universe, but certainly a brand new view. The Vtava stretched amber and glistening out to the countryside horizon. So I guess the tunnel served me just as it had for Princess Libuse.  One of us wanted to bury a secret, the other wanted a new horizon -- a magic trick, a disappearing act, a trap door -- and we both got what we asked for. Perhaps the theory can be proven after all.

True Romantic

Skin wrinkled by passing decades and kissed by the sun, he sits, like an ancient gargoyle, a miser, barely breathing.  He seems like a local, but somehow, he doesn’t belong here.  His eyes are transfixed, gaze locked, paralyzed, watching something invisible, otherworldly.  He himself seems other-worldly, a remnant from a time passed, an ancient Prague I will never know.  In my time here, my eyes have already been flooded with raunchy couples in the grass, on the escalator, limbs lost wrapped together, adoration wet with kisses on beards and hands too low on waists.  Maybe it’s because it’s the European way and I am but a foreigner, but I have yet to discover the iconic charm in European couples who can’t make it to the bedroom.  To me, it falls short of romance.  This man, however, I found entirely Romantic; charming in every way.  The way he existed still as a monument in the midst of a modern revolving world, on his own time.  And the question hovers around my head like a heavy sky before rainfall; who is he going to?

I wonder if they are a spouse of ages.  If he’s later than usual, and

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he's bringing a bouquet to say I’m Sorry in woman talk.  If he’s bringing them to a sister, or a friend, or perhaps a grave.  It’s awfully late to visit a grave, I think to myself, checking the time on the iPhone of the candy-crush indulging fellow sitting between the ghostly man and me.  Perhaps he is bringing the bouquet to a hospital? I hope not, I think to myself, imagining the source of his stoic expression to be sadness. A pang of empathy passes through me. No; it must be different.  Something about him is more than sadness, it’s more than old age, it’s more than a distraction.  It’s focus.  A part of me wonders if this might be the Romance everyone speaks of, the timeless, soundless tune inset into a centuries-old world.  The thing everyone keeps seeing in sunsets, couples straddling in public, walks on stone roads, all wonderful things which reference some wonderful tune these Czechs all seem to know, an unspoken, unwritable dialect. Romance.

The train lurches to a stop, the man and I briefly make eye contact, and he makes his exit.  As the door slides shut behind him, I wonder if maybe he simply bought them for himself.  I suppose a true romantic would.




What can only be characterized as a karaoke bit from a pub, relocated to Prague Garden's  baroque main stage --and the bystanders gawk. The redhead on stage warbles Czech-tinted gibberish with intermittent Texases and my ears burn at every mention of my home state, like a good old country girl. Neighboring  me is Girl (above), Older Sister, and Parents who take in the performance with wide-eyed wonder. Not quite so like the foreign homeland!, I think for them. However, Girl's focus is on a sultry peacock, withholding the gold eyes of his tail feathers.  Girl seems more interested in this than in the performer, and eventually launches herself from the bench towards the bird. 

I ask her in Czech if she's from here,  and her little tilted head and raised brows are my answer. "English?" I ask, and she responds in my 

language that she and her family are on vacation from Russia. Her little voice is a charming slur of  twelve-year-old short answers, and the broken English phrases come with the gait of somebody farther East, and father North. 

I hold this memory fondly, I can still hear her words and see the tilt of her head as she spoke. We had an understanding of being  kindred foreigners that day. They were on family vacation in Prague, and I was studying abroad.  I got to be part of the collective smörgåsbord of cultures present, and not just another American vulture. What's more, I was part of the twangy bit on stage! I was both within and without, just as she was; and in that, we shared a sort of seat to the show that day.

Her older sister made her way over to us after a few minutes of Girl and I speaking broken phrases to each other, either curious or protective; perhaps a bit of both.  I photographed the two of them together. Suddenly in a moment of unbridled delight, he girls clutched each other and pointed past me -- and there I saw the peacock bearing itself shamelessly, retrieving lost attention. It was a bit of catharsis, and the bird bowed its outstanding garb of colors and dipped out of sight. 


I’m not sure if at any point they understood my words when I explained to them I photograph people for a study program, showed them my photo site, and wrote down the web address for them.  Perhaps their matching eyes are reading these words through their matching glasses, and still wondering what the hell it is I’m trying to do.  I am still figuring it out, too.  All I know is little glasses-crowned, braid-framed Russian faces deserve the stage, every once in a  while. And it feels right to celebrate the simple wonder of people, those people in particular: their youth and character, their friendliness, their curiosity, their wide eyes and high socks and gorgeous broken English. For the sake of sisterhood, and the old and the new, and a karaoke cover in  a garden square. And if it's simply that and I’m the one to do it, that’s purpose enough.

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