The Seine river banks,
with their lack of guardrails, freaked
me out in fourth grade:
My best friend rushed to ask it.
"Did you hear?! (the news)"
A woman drowned!!
She gushed - the horror tale
punch line delivered.
My eyes were wide with
shock and fear - the monster takes
The dark Seine river
slithered, like a green snake
- feet from my front door.
There was no railing
- a misstep would drop you some
12 feet, to your cold death.
No parent could save
you - a terrifying thought for
a nine year old girl.
Walking to school, my
brother would sneak up, nudging
me near left-bank death.
I would scream, amid
cat calls and boyish laughter,
despite our au pair.
My best friend, Chloe, shared
my caution, if not my fear,
and loved to tease me.
That rapid river
loomed large in my dreams - as fears
can - for many years.
Last year we were in
Paris and I still couldn't go
near the riverbank =]
Some childhood fears stay vividly with us.
The River Seine, I remember well
And his bedroom window just above the stream
The gleam of a basement bar in Bruges
Blue eyes he poured out of over a mug
All I can think of is laughing and stumbling in the street
The cathedral as I sat in his lap, soft as the hour passed
Laughing at boys who were drunker than us
Asking each other which way the hotel was
Kissing in the dark in the back of the pub
Just look at him - how the eyes pour out
Pouring the most important thing into me,
Words I keep scrawled on a note in my pocket
Because he’s not here to tell me anymore
Doesn’t mean I can’t go back to the River Seine
Or a cathedral or the bar or the square
I can still hear it, the eyes pouring out
You looked so dead
as you sat there staring at me and as i sat there staring back at you through red stained eyes
and wet cheeks
and a lip that I could not control.
As I just sat and sat
and sat after telling you how
I loved you
and all I wanted to do was make you
happy for the rest of my life
you just looked at me
like I was some inconvenience in your good time.
You yourself for a moment held back tears
I could see them.
Your jaw tense and your eyes hollow but filled with resentment.
I was a flat tire - a stalled vehicle on the highway of your life
your summer of love and *** and drugs and cigarettes and *****
and here I was pouring my soul out onto the grass in front of you on the banks of the Seine and you sat there
sipping your rosé as if I was the fly that had landed in it.
You were horrible
it was horrible
and I had emptied my heart in front of you like I never had before with anyone
and you told me that as well,
that this was all that you wanted to hear when we were together
and now the time came where I was saying it
and it was too late for some reason
because you had done whatever you had to do to get over me
and now it was my time
and how unfortunate for you that you had to endure it alongside me. But you didn’t endure it.
You turned your face away from me as I wept
and said you’d rather get drunk instead of hold my hand
and when we left I walked alone
behind you along the river
and watched your shadow fade away against the coming twilight
and the backdrop of the city
and my world fell apart.
I’ll never forget that night in Paris.
It was my 35th birthday.
To strive to know the heart of one so pure,
To contemplate the fate of one so young;
With heavy hearts, uncertain and unsure,
We honor thee and praise thee with our song;
To stand alone, amongst the enemy,
To take a stand, and stare them in the face;
With courage in your heart, to let them see
That you alone can walk within God's grace;
To burn and burn and thrice to burn again,
To turn the skin, and flesh, and bone to ash;
Discarding all remains unto the Seine,
The stains upon their souls will never wash;
Old men of cloth, long deaf to voices sainted;
Her name condemns your black-hearts ever tainted.
In memory of Joan of Arc, murdered 30th May 1431.
— The End —