tracing footsteps

arriving Gare du Nord
and stepping out into
the late afternoon rush hour
there is rain on the pavements
and puddles in the gutters
motorbikes lean in patient lines
clouds gather in strips of sky

as we look up
and as we walk along
Rue la Fayette
the air is heavy
it feels toxic
with promises

Metro station Poissonnière
café – bar – tabac – brasserie
Metro station Cadet
turn right and right again

our heartbeats echo sirens
our tongues are tied
in tired throats
we want to roll the names
between our lips
like French kisses
but we are parched

when we arrive
at the Hotel Strassbourg
Rue de Montholon
leaning out on the balcony
smoking Gauloises Disque Bleu
every bit the Parisians

my belle de jour
my plus belle de nuit

as the night falls on the day
we join the crowds in Pigalle
sex shops and harlots hussle
we hold hands and smile
ce soir mon amour
I whisper in your ear

and tomorrow Père Lachaise
because you want to leave
a cigarette for Jim Morrison
and say bonjour to Proust
and non je ne regrette rien
to Édith Piaf and Oscar Wilde

and the day after that
the corridors of the Louvre
with Turkish Bathers for me
and Liberty Leading the People
for you before

we arrive at our conclusion
under a brightening blue
September brilliance
not quite Yves Klein
more Pompidou pipes
or Monet at Giverny

let’s stay here forever you say
or until the money runs out I reply
but the Gard du Nord beckons
and the ferry will take us home
from this fantasy

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5 thoughts on “tracing footsteps

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