Souvenir de Paris

Paris 2010 633In this café off Rue Severin,

we will meet someday again

in this smoke-filled room of laughter,

and toast,


as the cameras flash their language of truth and lies

and the secrets we keep from each other

and from ourselves.


In this café

where the woman in the portrait

moves away from us toward Algeria

in her black dress,

her lips parted slightly, mysteriously.


We gather in this café,

in from the lights of the Seine

and eat lamb and coucous with our wine,

forgetting the flea markets and mannequins,

the flower and bird markets,

the Moulin Rouge, the Oberkampt,

Le Marais, Montmartre, Montparnasse,

forgetting everything we have metered and measured,

counting out the seconds of our lives,

brief or eternal.


We have gathered in

from the Renaissance facades and interiors,

from the haunts of Hemingway, Pascal, Picasso, Monet,

the cobbled streets of the great and the humble.


We have gathered in

from the priests blessing the wafers,

the protesters with their banners and masks,

the police in uniform or not,

and the parade of white-headed veterans

marching erectly to L’Arc de Triomphe.


Here in war-wounded Paris,

the plaques, the red, white, blue carnations

next to a man’s name and a date,

mark a place of sudden death,


and beyond, at Pere Lechaise

where its canopy of chestnut trees in pink bloom

covers the chapels of bone and ash,

and the stones of remembrance

enrich the monuments to the deported.


We remember that “those who love

will be reunited,”

perhaps, here, in Paris

where lovers embrace without fear

and kiss the brow of their lover

as the Metro races through the underground caverns


toward the gardens of light and Luxembourg

where a girl leans out from her wooden horse on the carousel

to catch a ring with her stick,

and little boys push sailing boats

in the winds of the sea on the pond,

and every statue comes to life

in the blur of the sun, quickly, as the blink of a camera’s eye.


We have gathered here in this café

with the portrait of the Algerian woman,

who will never glimpse the Notre Dame, the Louvre

or the Seine.

Perhaps for her, we remember.

Perhaps, for ourselves.

“On oublie jamais,”

We do not forget.



May 18, 2001

About trillium24

“Art is a lie that makes us realize truth at least the truth that is given us to understand ... " Pablo Picasso
This entry was posted in Poems & Photographs and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Souvenir de Paris

  1. annellebella says:

    Awe the stirrings of memories of the past that now merge with those more recent. Sweet.

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