The Defenestration of Prague
When my father was six, the other children
teased him, calling him a dirty Bohunk.
My grandfather promptly changed
the family name. By this he collaborated
with the enemy, he repudiated
the family tradition. Thus you don't know
how resistant we have been. You have no
idea of the damage we can cause.
Sure, we look like anybody else,
but those children sensed something
amiss. I myself want to throw people
out the window all the time, even after
I know they don't deserve it.
I come from a long line of defenestrators.
We take our frustrations seriously,
we live for the dark moments of the soul,
we are the truly evil people,
we upset the apple cart time and time again.
Our closest neighbors have always hated us.
Thanks to Grandpapa, I can pass
for educated, empowered, lucky.
I have respect for the less fortunate
because they have respect for me.
However misguided, they know precisely when
to ask for favors, they never ask too much.
Back home in Prague, 17th century,
only the priests were allowed to drink
the blood of Christ. The children never knew
why the grownups were so upset.
The children didn't care about the bread
and the wine, they didn't know
how they were being insulted,
they didn't know they were being treated
like children, all they wanted
was to be talked to, played with, tickled
under the chin. They only wanted to eat
bread and chocolate, get nuts and oranges
every Christmas. But my ancestor Greguska
Pomikala threw two Habsburg representatives
out a third story window, unwittingly setting off
the Thirty Years' War. He was frustrated
when he threw them over the wide marble sill--
so cold as his fingers pried their fingers off.
He took nothing with a grain of salt.
I am familiar with how he felt
at the victims' moment of takeoff.
Sometimes I wish I'd followed in his footsteps.
He felt as if he'd married the most beautiful
woman in the world only to be told,
You can't touch her. Greguska wanted
to drink the wine, too. He wasn't happy
being given bread alone. Neither am I.
I am taking back the family name,
the family traditions. Don't ever
cross me and expect to stand alone,
with me, in a room with windows.
Kimberly Townsend Palmer
If you've any comments on this poem, Kimberly
Townsend Palmer would be pleased to
hear from you.