GRAHAM BURCHELL

 

Where Do The French Go After Dark?

 

At four pm – at five and six they pour from a damp hole  

Beneath the cold wires of metro tracks.  Le Vesinet.

 

In the northern dusk, frowned on by poodle-pruned rows of spring trees,

They run, fright-eyed lest they should suck on bad air.

 

Some duck behind the glass doors of cafes and fragile shops

That refuse to draw their blinds on mid days and Mondays.

 

A slight man normal in every urban sense

Opens a silver scooter like a sandwich plucked from a lunch box.

 

He scoots - the pavement winding him with gathered speed.

He draws no other face intent on fussy cakes,

 

Baguettes, cut flowers and well-chosen wine,

Bustling to fit it all before some Cinderella time

 

Leaves them stranded, alone in the open grey

Among the puddles and bruised market leaves.

 

At eight, yellow lamplight stains the early rain.

The phosphorous sheen the only dance.

 

The soft groan of a weary pigeon lifting from a gutter;

The labour of wing beats, the only sounds.

 

So I pick a silent path to Cinéma Jean-Marais

Walking a film-set fantasy myself,

 

Leaving behind a slug trail, an English scent

To be sniffed, curious in the new morning drizzle

 

When cars bunch with irritated parking once more.

When the high-heeled and the well-heeled run,

 

Mindlessly tumbling into the damp hole

Towards the ghostly metro hum.

 

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Sentinel Poetry #33

Online Magazine Monthly, August 2005. ISSN 1479-425X. Editor: Amatoritsero Ede