Friday, 25 August 2017

When Paris Was a Woman

by Adrena Zawinski


Let nothing else get in but that clear vision you are alone alone with.
––Gertrude Stein


When Paris was a woman, she lounged long and lazy
            at Café Les Deux Magots on Saint-Germaine des Prés,
her Chinese silk cloak draped across her shoulders,
            head wrapped in a neat and fashionable cloche, sporting
a velveteen top hat and spats, if the occasion so moved her,
            while she tipped a glass of vin ordinaire to passers by,
a songbird’s oh-so-blue tune plying the backdrop,
            with je ne regrette rien, silken as Piaf’s black slip
of a dress under the night’s streetlight where love
            could sometimes be exchanged for a few francs.

When Paris was a woman, Mata Hari rode nearly naked
            on a circus horse to a reading at a garden salon,
Renée Vivien’s images lilting poems in Sapphic revival,
            blinded by constellations of amazones and sirenes.
Into the city of dark nights, under the Montmartre sky,
            where even Josephine would stroll, tiger on a short leash, 
while a local coquette would bite down hard on the lip of a man
            who calculated the price of an aperitif as a kiss.

When Paris was a woman, she mused over Radclyffe’s
banned book, Gertrude’s opaque scrawl recited again and again:
            Rose is a
            Rose is a
            Rose is a
            Rose
            She is my rose.
La femme de lettres joined with Alice at Cimetière du Père Lachaise, some say seen strolling there still with Romaine
and Natalie, Germaine and Colette, Flanner, Monnier,
a whole coterie
of women wanting Paris
to be a woman
again.


* * * * *

"When Paris Was a Woman" was first published in Sinister Wisdom 100 (Dover, FL).

More about Andrena Zawinski at https://andrenazawinski.wordpress.com.