Tuesday, November 4, 2008

i am imagining myself...
in paris, swinging my legs over the seine river, munching on a baguette with my lover. the gray water laps against the stone wall beneath us. the baguette is crusty on the outside, but soft and sweet in the middle. we just rip off chunks and stuff them in our mouths, like the French do. we waited in line at a boulangerie, where people waited patiently for their turn. it's amazing how infectious patience can be.

we watch as tourist boats slowly chug up and down the seine and the passengers gape gleefully at the landmarks they pass. the Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides, and finally they loop around Notre Dame Cathedral and return to dock. do they know that they floated past Le Conciergerie, where Marie Antoinette spent her last days? do they know that the gilded Dome Church houses Napoleon's remains? and that Parisians still respectfully call it "le tombeau de l'empereur?" do they know that Victor Hugo wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame to save the cathedral from falling into disrepair? and that at his death, millions came to pay their respects?

in the Tuileries Gardens, we walk together, laughing, our fingers intertwined. we lie on the grass together, by the fountain, where children splash, racing miniature sailboats while their mothers lazily observe. he rests his head on my stomach and i stroke his hair with one hand; the other holds ernest hemingway's A Moveable Feast. i read aloud to him until i know he's asleep, and then i too, close my eyes and let the sun's warmth wash over me. i hear the children giggling at the fountain. a violinist on the corner plays a lonely tune.

tonight, on the #6 metro, we gasp as the train bursts from the dark tunnel out into the dark night. the tour eiffel sparkles just before us and we lurch to a stop. a young man with a guitar hops on, hoping to earn a few coins. the doors slam shut. the guitarist saunters, strumming, over to the prettiest girl in the car. he forgets the rest of us and serenades her as the light from the flickering tower fades behind us. the train plunges underground again, rattling. she stares out the window, but in the reflection, i see a smile dance upon her lips.