The Place de la République’s outdoor cafe, white wine
in a glass so thin it blurs realms with the greenery,
and with a statue patina-ed bronze, its plaque too far to read,
dull-lettered, pigeon-marked, possibly a thesis on history.
Yet the student lesson for today was the bomb at Boulevard
St. Michel, and the tourist’s heightened sense increased
in the evening’s Semtex blast near Le Drugstore at L’Étoile.
Luxe, voluptuousness, the children of freedom have returned.
Benjamin was here in the late 1930s, jackboots down the street,
wrote to Scholem of his “estrangement from everyone he knew.”
Old Paris, carnage and death, St. Denis grilled on the champs,
the slaughtered diners at Goldenbergs in the Marais. I have
eaten there too, and now the wine’s tincture puckers the lips,
and then the buds of flavor burst coming through, like a life
passed from one into another’s care, in the City of Light
where hope was stifled once between le mot juste and le mot juif.
From “Wordflow,” 1997