3 Rue Tiquetonne
Even as I climb the tight spirals
of the staircase and trace small hands along
16th century wood beams to the third floor,
I still hear toe shoes in my mind, tapping
on the elegant floorboards of the Paris Opera House.
Chagall’s ceiling directed ornaments,
and music, swift and animated, plotted
the way for dancers, but my mind is full
of pirouettes that leave only a pucker of sound.
With a soft click, the key opens the door
into the dim apartment. Everything is small
and crowded: Parisian thrift arranged
with black and white photographs,
silk throw pillows and mismatched glasses
in the tiny kitchenette. A derelict
leather chair, a few ottomans and a broad
maple coffee table plot the stage
of bookshelves filled with old jazz.
Parquet creaks, the day’s loose change
spills with dull cadence onto the table,
and as I leaf through my French dictionary
the pages rustle until I find pamplemousse.
I want to know the translation of the grapefruit
that the market approved for breakfast.
Tonight, green beans and red onions chassé
in the buttered pan, but the life of a baguette
lasts only six hours, so I must act with haste;
I listen for the crackle of bread crust
in the acoustics of the red curtained Paris loft.