Magazine | February 11, 2013, Issue

Poetry

Last Night

If one sits on the steps of Sacré Coeur

     to see the city after dusk,

one sees, too, in the cold, each traveler:

   the silk-scarved men, distinct with musk;

 the ladies in flared miniskirts and tights,

    most often black or midnight blue,

occasionally punctuated — brights,

     or puce, or some unlikely hue.

 One sees the leathered packs with cigarettes

     on precipices blowing smoke.

One listens to musicians finger frets

     for famous songs, of rock or folk,

And smells some bitter andouille on the wind,

     grim and scraggly grass in cracks,

the perspiration of the olive-skinned,

     or warmly melted votive wax.

 Green macaron in hand, its mellow paste

     the flavor of pistachio –

like olive skin one cannot touch nor taste –

     in vain, one fights with vertigo.

The tourists photographing from a tier

     below, curved girlfriends striking poses,

roaming vendors proffer bottled beer

     and blood-red, long-stemmed roses.

As twilight deepens, one will then observe

     deposit, these distracted brash,

the emerald-drained merchandise they serve

     in bags hung on the fence for trash.

Perhaps unnoticed, wholly by surprise,

     a bottle will miss the bag, and break,

its broken shards outspread like distant eyes

     which cause some hazel heart to ache.

Upturned and staring from the chilly stone,

     the pieces render one aware

although surrounded, one is yet alone,

     by means of their green, absent glare.

 Attempting to escape from such a glower,

     one stands, walks to the west, the sight,

the tall seduction of the Eiffel Tower,

     alluring and aligned with light.

And from those heights, perhaps one then will wonder

     in silence, what it would be like

to fall beyond the fence, and tumble under

     this platform — plentiful — to strike

 some unidentified allée, to splatter

     the ground of Sacré Coeur beneath,

and if the dizzy mind would even matter

     to brittle bones, or grinding teeth.

Jennifer Reeser is the author of six books. Her most recent poetry collection is Indigenous (Able Muse Press, 2018).

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Last Night If one sits on the steps of Sacré Coeur      to see the city after dusk, one sees, too, in the cold, each traveler:    the silk-scarved men, distinct with musk;  the ladies ...
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