Paris Rendez-Vous

Quartier Gare de Nord
October 2010 (my photo)

Paris Rendez-Vous

(A poem from my 2010 trip to Paris)

In the initial flurry of dark coats and

Clunking baggage wheels, my harsh accent that

Does not sing gets lost on the platform. The

Acclimated crowds ravage my coveted Gauloise

While I hesitate.

Emerging, damp silk and cotton clinging to

My skin, my body threatens to fail as I

Pray for her acceptance. The station

Breathes mechanical three-tone chimes

Delineating each train.

Simplicity of metal, glass and concrete,

The station does not yield to the sway

Of engines and cars. This canopy

Protects me from the elements and her gaze.

My reluctant shove opens the door.

I cascade into a surreal apertif of

Flowers, perspiration and urine,

Cigarette smoke and inexpensive red wine

Skimming her flesh. The olfactory assault awakens me

And mocks my freshness.

Redolent of yeast, her warm body embraces

Me. My mouth lusts for her breads and her

Sweets, grime overshadowed, but my first

Need is revival brought by strong coffee

In tiny cups.

At the hotel, I climb a vivid pink and

Worn brown spiral of 85 stairs to a

Corner chamber where imperfect sheets

Remain suspiciously mussed from the

Bodies preceding us.

I step to the balcony, fingers of wrought iron

Restraining me as I stand with no destination

Sandwiched between opposing stations.

In this space, I taste her earnest

Poignancy on the breeze.

From this narrow ledge, she dances

Mesmerizing me with her softness, her angles;

Her age versus her timelessness.

Her caress reaches me and transforms the American

Tension that defines me.

Transfixed, I freeze. Every murmur against

Neighboring tracks rocks my core, screaming of my

Transience. Every siren from the streets below

Thrills me, a tremor for each pin-pon that pierces

My overconstructed fugue.

The passersby below my balcony continue their

Departure, trajectory focused on a shortcut to the

Train. Their nonchalance boggles me. Her touch

Forces amnesia, the mundane discarded in her kisses.

We descend into her streets of rapture.

She leads me through her neighborhoods

Into her flavors. She is not the girl I once knew

But nor am I the same. I desire more than I did in youth

So I chase her as I will chase her for days

Begging for our merger.

The ideologists mandate her purity, concocting paltry laws

While she feigns aloofness. The natives ignore her

Everyday charms but bristle when she shares

Her ardor with Africans, Muslims, and other dark faces

As readily as white skins.

She absorbs the choppy resonance of the Arabic

Laid at her feet and stares at the strange letters

She cannot read, because language constantly

Mutates. She can only preserve her heart and not what the

Populace layers upon her.

My feet blister keeping pace, just the endorphins

Propel me. My mood turns uneasy as she continues beneath

Me, urging me onward into her pleasures. With fats from

Her table and easy-flowing wine, she satiates, sullies

And corrupts me.

Under the haze of alcohol with a belly full of frog,

Snails and rabbit, she lures me to the river Seine,

Tourist-laden boats driving its currents,

Its banks flooded with the silhouettes

Of lovers entwined.

When exhaustion lands me in my bed, I never

Close the window. The bugs nip my soiled flesh

But I continue to expose myself to her.

How else could I monitor her nocturnal movements?

Never have I felt so dirty and free.

But finally, I return to that station, with more

Song in my voice. I laugh and weep as the

RER dashes into the suburbs. Tunnels ascend

Into daylight, sun falling on graffiti, the message too real,

Disconcerting.

My tears draw attention from a tall

Black man with dreads whose soft French comforts

My sorrow. I can only pray that he will

Care for her, as I do, and stay with her

With a permanence I cannot.

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