Shadows of Paris

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In honor of Eric D. Lehman’s novella Shadows of Paris winning the Silver Medal from Foreward INDIES Book Award, here is my poem from Lune de Miel.

 

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.

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34 km from Paris

To celebrate the forthcoming publication of my husband Eric D. Lehman‘s novella Shadows of Paris, I’m posting this poem, not of Paris exactly, but when you read Shadows, you’ll know why this poem makes sense. The characters in his beautifully crafted story also “know something of transformation,” but that’s all I’ll say. You should discover it for yourself. Make your pilgrimage to Homebound Publications and buy your copy. Click again to get  Lune de Miel, where this poem first appeared.

Pilgrim at Auvers
The pigeons at L’eglise Notre Dame know something
of transformation. White broods in a sky that has forgotten
color and the silhouette of clouds. A quiet stroll
through narrow, charcoal streets led me here,
up ancient stone steps to the church where Vincent
van Gogh saw blue-black sky churn in flight around
the toasted edifice. The flock perches until the hint
of something migratory and innate calls them to stir;
in hues of gray they erupt in a smooth arc, returning
to roost on the slants of the high, tilted steeple.
Winter weighs endurance and transition as stone erodes
to dust, leaves compost to mud, and summer flowers
that steadily surveyed August afternoons convert
to dried stalks in frozen dirt. Pilgrims, too, know of shifts
and I walk into the warm and lonely church to wait
for language to come again to my cold lips.
Fifteen hundred hours toll from the bell tower,
a grave listens at the top of the hill, and a downcast sun
aches to paint maize onto the bare winter scroll.