« Found on a Scrap of Paper Inside a Library Book (an Anthology of Persian Poets) | Main | At Rise »

A Picture of Zurich

by Daniel Braum

I am seventeen. The store in our town that sells prints and lithographs is going out of business. On the eve of my departing for university, I find myself shopping there and a print of a city on a lake, framed by mountains captures me.

The image is comprised of tiny squares. Bright oranges. Cobalt blues and silvers for the lake. Forty dollars is the final price, after many reductions and cross outs marked on a sticker tag on the back. I paid what was then a tidy sum and took the picture with me to university.


The picture stays with me wherever I live. For a decade it adorns my walls in a simple, silver frame, then spends the next ten years rolled up in a storage tube.


I am thirty seven. Stepping foot on Zurich’s paving-stone streets for the first time, memories of my almost-forgotten print flood back to me. My business in Zurich is done and with a day on my hands before having to return to the States, I change out of my suit and tie into sneakers and comfortable jeans.

The air is clean and it is something about the pace, the rhythm of all the people, and not just the river and ring of mountains that makes me feel like the painting.

I wind past clock towers and churches. Cafés are setting up tables for lunch with care and grace. The shops sell exquisite paper, artists tools, beautiful furniture, absinthe, coffee and of course chocolate. I am lost but I don’t care. I am wandering.

I enter a shop. A dozen paintings hang on its walls. Each is in the style of my Zurich print but each is of the cities I have lived in. A man is at an artist’s work desk cutting squares of paper, tools neatly laid out in front of him. He turns and his face is mine- bearded and gray, but mine none-the-less.

Everything disappears. The shop is empty. I go back outside and notice an elegant for sale sign in the window. I wander a while and find my way back to my hotel but I know I won’t be returning to the States anytime soon. I realize why I have come.

- END -

Post a comment