Here we are for Magpie Tales, a new meme in which we write a story or poem based on a photo posted by Willow at the 'Tales blog. I might be a bit early with this, but the Poetry Bus is leaving today too, and this is the one that's ready already.
How curiously old-fashioned.
Not only were they matches, they were wooden matches.
Not only did they have the name of the hotel proudly on the box, they were free.
Who uses matches anymore in this world of non-smokers, this world of nifty lighters?
And yet, they are of a piece with Slovakia, even to their somber black heads.
They extend the continuum of this has-been hotel, trying to keep a foot out of the grave.
They place us in a 1970’s movie, along with the carefully preserved linoleum in the bathroom and the clean polyester bedspread.
That unique sulfurous odor mixed with woodiness.
The flame leaping up, illuminating your face for a long second, before dying back down, nearly going out, then living again more modestly.
A trail of smoke lazily disperses. I watch your eyes watching it.
There’s something about striking an old wooden match.
And about traveling to old, second-order cities.
Something to landing in a second-order hotel and having a drink in the bar and a room on the third floor overlooking the grey courtyard. Rooms on the square are 10 euros more.
We’re traveling backward in time, going east.
People are smoking in the lobby,
They have smoked here in our room, reminding us with the lingering odor that we are not the first to take this room, for a night or a week or a lifetime, not the first to look out the grimy windows onto the sunless grey courtyard.
They have generously left us matches, that we may carry on the tradition.
How shall we manage?
5 hours ago