In a brisk, clear day in Belle Paris,
rich people, vagabonds and satyrs escaped to the Tuileries.
La Mona Lisa, recently returned to France by Italy,
held court at Le Louvre and the Champs Élysées
Before the era of Humanist Photography
I roamed the streets trying to freeze time and thaw money
Fancied myself ahead of it all, but I was just hungry,
Wishing I could rise from La Gazette de Pigalle to Le Figaro
With my folding Brownie to make snapshots
I cruised the boulevards, searched for the jackpot.
Maybe well-bred ladies of a certain class and élan,
or those en route to the Moulin
I craved le drame…
So it came at the Rue de la Paix,
Between the cars and the smoke from cafés
that she made her sudden apparition
My accidental muse, a sublime vision
Ready to hunt
Two enormous dark feathers shot out of her hat
Hermès had white wings but her fireworks were black
Half-masked face, fancy dark coat, jolie sultane,
Was she headed to a party or L’Opera
Or an operatic funeral?
The cyclops’ eye of my camera rose,
in rhyme she turned, they met, hypnose.
A carnival cobra and squeamish lens of glass
A furtive glance, pillars of salt,
C’est fait, osmose.
“I’m yours now”, elle me dit.
“Toujours” I replied. “Merci”
She continued down to Place Vendome.
How I Love This City!