and so it was that i was found in northern france's chill alone,
holding the the useless rind of an orange to my nose
to remind myself that there were places other than the one i was.
My french seemed worse and worse, as i began to use it,
rides so distant from the autoways were lunch-breaks between towns.
some drivers reaching for the radio to find some common set of changes,
some talking on, telling stories i can only ever guess at, as though
they did not mind i could not understand. And most taking the road
beside me in the most intimate of silences.
But the french men are truly men, and the women, so truly women,
and those not so easily defined are also true unto themselves
in ways, them all, such that they embraced these moments
of absolute alone-ness, with no third-party small-talk conversations
to soften the blowing wind of the time-space C.
So in each town in which they left me,
I could sit in the bakery or bar with a Cafe Creme
and have such silence sustained that the words at my were
felt as though they were not my own, though i know now
that were unimaginably so, in true and fearful ways.
and when locals came in, they either shook my hand
as they did everybody else within, or asked the others
and were answered 'les anglaise.'
and at the evening of that first day, with my spirits down,
I came at last through rain and silent side-by-side exchanges
past the towns, soft with timber-frames grown lazy and haphazard
in their shape, bending from a century of tenants on the stairs.
I came Reims and climbed a fence to lay for the night,
in a crude semblance of sleep, between a wheelbarrow and a garden,
below a pathwork lean-to that held off the rain when no wind and no breeze blew.
turning, with no feeling in feet, like a door or window on hits hinges, through the night.
rolled in a useless sleeping bag, as if i were a cigarette that fell out of an opened car door.
I lay, listening to the flapping corners of tarps and thinking about how
the only artistically beautiful justification for missing my flight would be
if the plane had met the Mediterranean, and i got a tom sawyer moment out of my funeral.
I lay dreaming of babylon, and thinking of a sweet unchallenged sleep,
with whatever dreams might come, as though wishing for a decaffeinated coffin.