prose poem

Je croyais

Hemingway told me “there is never any end to Paris” and I believed him, and I believed in Paris and in its boulevards and winding narrow streets with flower boxes silhouetted against blue and clouds, I believed in all its museums and graffiti and tableaus smeared with paint and truth and life because Renoir saw the people dancing in Montmartre under trees and in the dappled midday light and I knew that he knew Paris and its people in morning light and rainy fog and twilight when the city comes alive and all the young ones walk the Seine and smoke and whisper to each other as footsteps echo on the cobblestones, and I believed in musicians in the metro stations who played with open cases at their feet and let their voices bounce around off all the white tiled tunnels, and I believed in the cello player who wore his hair long playing concertos while I rushed to catch my train, I believed in the man outside my apartment every morning fixing bicycles and radios he carried in his shopping cart, I believed in one euro baguettes and croissants warm in the morning and espressos in cold cafes before dawn when all the workers were eating breakfast, I believed in grass in jardins where no signs told me to stay off and puddles in the gravel walks winding through the flowers from spring rains coming in the night and sprinklers in the afternoon, I believed in the carousel twirling in the Marais surrounded by chocolate shops and stores with dresses I tried on but never bought and the square where sitting on stone steps I ate my lunch of bread and cheese and wondered where all the city had gone and why losing my way was easy in this part that was filled with oaken doors and the Place des Vosges that I never found on purpose and the galleries whose owners eyed my with disdain and knew before I spoke I was not French and the little shop called Thanksgiving that sold boxed cake mix and Philadelphia cream cheese and peanut butter for the expats, but Paris was my thanks giving every day when I crossed the bridge of the Promenade Plantée and looked out on the vast expanse of greenest grass below my feet and the toddlers rolling on the lawn and parents blowing bubbles in bare feet and lovers’ whispered nothings laying on blankets from their parents’ homes and I never needed the Arc de Triomphe when all of Paris was beneath me on a little bridge in the 12th and then, I didn’t have to wait in line, and I believed all of it!  But I left Paris and its neverendingness and I believe in something else now because Paris is a feast but the lingering taste is all I have left.

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One Response

  1. I will be traveling to Paris later this week, so I thought that posting my poem about that city would be apropos. I lived in Paris for over 3 months last spring, and I cannot wait to go back!

    An additional comment: if you have not read Hemingway’s book, A Moveable Feast, I would highly recommend it. It is about his time in Paris and is beautifully written. I was lucky enough to have read it while living in Paris, though, which perhaps means you should take my opinion of the work with a grain of salt.

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