Visiting Paris

They were in the scullery talking.

The meadow had to be sold to pay their riotous expenses;

then the woods by the river,

with its tangled banks and snags elbowing out of the water,

had to go; and then the summer house where they talked—

all that was left of an estate once so big

a man riding fast on a fast horse

couldn’t cross it in a day. Genevieve. Hortense. Mémé.

The family’s last born, whose pale name is inscribed on the rolls

of the Field of the Cloth of Gold. As in the fresco of the Virgin,

where the copper in the pigment oxidizes to trace a thin green cicatrix

along a seam of Her red tunic,

a suspicion of one another furrowed their

consanguine, averted faces.

Why go anywhere at all when it rains like this,

when the trees are sloppy and hooded

and the foot sinks to the ankle in the muddy lane?

I didn’t stay for the end of the conversation.

I was wanted in Paris. Paris, astounded by my splendor

and charmed by my excitable manner,

waited to open its arms to me.

By: Vijay Seshadri

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