I was going through some old writing from when I was backpacking around Europe, and stumbled onto this, which I wrote on the penultimate day of my trip. I’m surprised how much I still like it, especially since it was done in haste, without much reflection, and probably too much wine. I remember my time in France as one of learning about Impressionism, reading Apollinaire and Sartre, and trying new cheeses every day, among other things. Je t’aime, France.


 

Impression: 20th Arrondissement

 

Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure

Les jours s’en vont je demeure

Apollinaire

 

Old flat on the 6th floor over Ménilmontant,

In the gray blanket of August, I, a flâneur,

Retired there to the opiate of coffee

And careless snowfall of cigarette ash,

A palate for the sensations.

 

Tomorrow I leave Paris, but the days here remain.

 

Below, the slurp of cars treading wet pavement,

A forum of used electronic stores,

Spits of dönor revolving in windows,

And troquets where barkeeps smoke from porch steps.

An urchin barks at his broken shadow,

Chases his voice like a phantom up and down the street.

From an opposite loft a student warms her piano,

Scaling the keys in a roundelay.

A mutual consciousness supplants chaos

Channeled between ravines of brick façades

And the organized gaze of a hundred

Symmetrical, blank windows.

 

Tomorrow I leave Paris, but the days here remain.

 

These floorboards creak like they were gossiping.

A row of wine bottles guards the countertop.

Together they spell out the countryside.

Fronton. Bordeaux. Côtes du Rhône.

Their dried grape sediment marks the glass bottoms.

The air is anemic, breathing days-old cigarettes.

Fruit on the counter is stale, wrinkling, sprouting flies.

 

Tomorrow I leave Paris, but the days here remain.


R. Charboneau

 

Artwork: Manet – The Rue Monsier with Flags (1878)

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