Join me and 17 other authors from Connecticut at the Read Local Author Fair. Saturday, March 24 from 11-1:00 at the Riverfront Community Center, 300 Welles Street, Glastonbury, CT 06033. I’ll be there with copies of The Comet’s Tail: A Memoir of No Memory (in advance of its official release date!) as well as Reconnaissance, Four Blue Eggs, Literary Connecticut, A History of Connecticut Food, and A History of Connecticut Wine. Come out and show your support for local authors. In the meantime, follow my poetry progress with Tupelo Press and support Homebound Publications.
History of a Table
The bar where Henry Miller drank
tenders a thin table beneath a mirrored wall
scoping author’s portraits and patrons who filter
into booths and pout with espresso mouths.
I am only apprenticing Paris. We’ve scrapbooked
ourselves here to dip into the ink of artists like us
who came to loot and ransack the city, to hunt
amid gray, cobbled streets, take the surly and brooding
pelt of phenomenon and deposit a littered alphabet
of new and debaucherous talismans. My pen
trembles, and I ache to write myself into a version
of original sin, revel in the profanity of life,
and spit into my inkwell. Beneath Hemingway
my new husband scribbles in his moleskin.
I fix my eyes toward the ring on his hand.
By the time my cocktail abandons me
I have taken custody of the deserted chronicles
left long ago on tap handles and between floorboards.
My husband closes his book; we leave on the table
a handprint of coins and a pocket of space.
The apprenticeship ends with the looted winter air
sweeping us into the amulet of the Paris night.
A wintery poem from Lune de Miel, Paris honeymoon, marriage, aging, and how the past maps itself out in pieces to be collected when you get there.
At the Café Select
Rue Montparnasse bustles outside the café window. It seems that there are very few hours of daylight in the Paris winter, though perhaps when something is condensed we can find the best part of it, like the pulp of a nut. As I watch passers-by folly onward, I listen to the voice of an American man talk about his life to a companion. I’m surprised when I turn my head to see that she is a younger woman. With my back turned to him, I imagined him telling his story to an old Navy buddy or a colleague he’s met for business. She is my age and this reminds me that I’m a week away from my thirty-fifth birthday. I hear him tell her about success, and he uses words like celebrate and thrive. But then his voice dims and I wonder if perhaps he’s slipped into French; perhaps I am just lost in the gloomy sidewalk, the gray pavement only a few shades deeper than the sky.
Later I catch him say that he doesn’t feel like a success; he pauses and continues with “in some ways more than a success.” “I have survived,” he notes. I guess his age to be seventy, perhaps, a few years younger than my father when he died, a few years younger than the ash-haired woman with a cane who passes by the window. The woman wears a tweed coat that falls just past her knees; her pale stockinged legs move slowly, even with the aid of a third. Her success is quieter, though both journeys have fought off the closing of many hours. I doubt that this as an adequate measure of success, though I like the simplicity of such an idea, as if all we had to do was float like tree branch down a long river.
The café-crème is cold by the time I turn my attention back to it, and having to strain now to hear their conversation, I lose interest in the man and his companion. Instead, I glance up to see my new husband writing a story about a little Danish boy whose mother dies. I think of my father and mother who both missed our wedding, and I wonder about the river’s end. As my thirty-fifth year comes to its end, I may be halfway there, to the moment when I recount my hours and ponder the scope of my successes. For now, I put on my own tweed coat, reach for my husband’s hand, and trace another’s steps down the boulevard.
Click on “a story about a little Danish boy. . . ” for the current issue of The Passed Note, a journal which features “The Wind Barrons of the Pharo Islands” by Eric D. Lehman, the very story described.