Paul-Newell Reaves’

ATLAS: vol.2 Vienna, AT



Where the Danube River Meets the Danube Canal


Outside the main city— some three kilometers North— the canal rejoins the river.

The Danube is mighty, flowing North West at Vienna, wind rocking waves.  Yet this is only half the waterway.  Otherside of a grassy, densely tree-populated island, the New Danube was built.  Less wide, and it is straighter.

A thin peninsula reaches into the old river, dividing the canal.  A green, iron bridge spans the channel: atop it, two lion statues, both the same, green, and on the peninsula side a white house, with thin lines of the same green color.

A tugboat docks above the canal, rusting but brightly painted, green and red stripes above and below a white cabin.

Two stone staircases descend into the canal.  On the peninsula— a thinner case— a young girl talks on her cell phone, hand tucked to her ear beneath a furry hood.  The mainland side steps are four times wider, but a sixth the height.

An older woman in a slim black coat resembles her tiny dog, who scrambles down the steps to drink from the canal.

The canal meanders towards the city center.  Much more direct is the D train.



Some Most Excellent Graffiti


Along the Danube Canal, some most excellent graffiti painted.  The composition appears against a black background.  What seem like letters, though in no recognizable alphabet, are written in silver, bordered with lines of topaz and white.  Perhaps these are not letters, but long, intricate arrows.  Across the canvas zig-and-zag streaks of orange and red, broadening at the center till they dominate the work.  Dead middle, a sole patch of yellow.



Cafe Central, est. 1876


Let’s start with the ceiling: off white, almost yellow, with maroon and purple stripes vaulting across small, uneven domes.  Turquoise stripes split with pink rise up then down to the heads of marble columns.

The windows arch to the top of the columns, bordered by paisley curtains

The room, large, greets the enterer with a pastry counter and a statue of Peter Attenberg, a former patron.

Now for dessert.  The milchrahmstrudel has a damp and flakey crust, while the cheese curd, exactly the same color as the vanilla sauce, bounces beneath my utensil.  The strawberry is out of season, but the whipped cream is homemade.

Waiters are friendly and attentive, for once in this town.



Wiener Linien, 72 Hour Vienna Ticket


Pink!— dull pink.

Please validate

— in three languages:

German, English, then French.

An arrow pointing in the direction

one inserts in the machine.

E 17.10

Inkl. 10% USt



An Intriguing Gate

The young man slightly smiles at me as he passes by, and I smile slightly back.

With each step, his left heel circles outside his hip, while his left toe points inward at 45 degrees.  That foot then lands parallel to the direction of his travel.

His left hand curls inward with those lefthand steps, then also relaxes as the foot falls.

His right side, as it steps, remains rigidly parallel to the direction of his travel.

He wears a puffy, black coat with two brown, leather patches from shoulder to upper abdomen.  Without metaphor, the coat’s hood is heavy over his head.



Sunday Night Ice-Skating


Off Johonstrabe is a public ice-rink.  The center ice, cordoned off with red lines tieded to green posts, is for beginners, mostly toddlers stuttering across the ice.  The outer ring has smoother skaters: couples holding hands; friendly pairs conversing; a trio— one man and two women— and individuals.  These solitary skaters are the most talented, turning backwards, spinning.  A skinny, young girl practices her double lutz.  

On the far side from the entrance is a hockey rink, but no one plays.  Indeed, this part of the rink is opened to general skating, open to the wider rink, this last night of the season.  Skating lasts until 9pm and will not open again till next winter.

Tickets and skate rentals cost too much, so I sit in the adjoining bar, offering a fine view of the sport, drinking whiskey and pilsner beer long into the evening.

Dance of the Bartenders

It’s a small circular bar counter, with less than eight feet between the beers spouts and espresso machine, either ends of the unclosed circle behind the bar.  The young man is the manager, the young woman a bartender.  The other man— short grey beard, big gut bulging the buttons on his shirt— owns the place.

The manager steps from his stool outside the counter into the small inclosure.  As the bartender returns from delivering sausage to a group of three, the manager side-steps to the back of the inclosure.  She tops off a foamy beer, but now he blocks the way to the kitchen!  She slides to the gap in the counter, and the manager, he steps forward.  The owner then joins the fray, pouring wine for a woman who has waited longer than he believes she should.  The dance continues: pouring, delivering, clearing, wiping and stowing glasses— stepping forward, sliding back— passing each other with a hand on the arm or the back.

At Zentralfriedhof

Tram 71; end of the line; Zentralfriedhof Cemetery.

Down the central path from the main gate, Brahms has a sleek, marble— white, shining white— vertical slab, his carven portrait atop an as white pillar.  The horizontal slab above his  remains remains green with moss.  On the pillar in bright gold, his last name, only, and 1833-1897.

Joseph Hoffman has a cubical pillar, taller than wide, wider than deep, a patched light grey, the limestone turning green at the top.  It reads Joseph Hoffman MDCCCLXX MCMLVI  Karoline Hoffman MDCCCXCIV MCMLXXX.

Zemlinsky’s grave catches my eye: five identical metal abstractions, angled 50 degrees off parallel from the path; each has a straight line on the far side, angled also off from vertical, and on the near side five sharp and differing angles.  1871-1942.

The funereal bell tolls; how quickly it tolls.  

An open grave to my right; wooden ramp leading to the six-foot opening.  

The procession soon follows led by brown clad, elderly, bearded monk.  I cross myself soon before he passes.  And the priest, in royal purple, nods his appreciation, for I have stepped to the side of the gravely road, allowing the hearse to pass.

Wide and deep fields of empty plots stretch far to the North, waiting for the rest of us.





 more ATLAS



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