So how would you translate “Dommage”?
The town is closed, remorselessly.
Only the tourists arrive. Erroneously migrating birds
Landing on a mirage,
They go to roost among gargoyles
Because the quays refuse
To open up their mouldering lids
For these illiterate hordes.
And yet there is a poetry to closure.
The flaneur goes on the scavenge for
Retreating paradigms of being away while summer’s here:
The dried leaves that loiter by the roots
Of planes inured to eczema,
The nuclear family groups
Hinting at abusive subterfuges
Festering back in mid-Western suburbia.
Aren’t the daughter’s hot-pants far
Too brief for her to sit like that on her father?
Aren’t the son’s blond ringlets too profuse,
Pre-Raphaelite? How distant is the mother.
Each idler eyes what these themselves disguise.
They constitute the sights
Now, while the town is dead, removed, away,
All its shops on holiday,
Though diamond anniversaries go by,
Hand in withered hand, on their way
To Burger King, out-burghering Rodin.
Still, Parisian sphinxes spout
To gush out the lie that the town is alive
Or just about to wake up.
Their liquid rhapsody
Appears so granitely absurd.
Anciently in Vogue,
Audrey Hepburn gets the final word.
“Make-up can only
Make you look pretty on the outside,
But it won’t help
If you’re ugly on the inside,
Unless you swallow the make-up.”
Paris, August, 2018