Paris is Raining
Water is raining down Montmartre, rivulets leaking to the Seine. Josep feels like a martyr, the slow torture of wet feet. The stitching of his leather shoes is rotting; that’s the kind of winter it has been. Paloma hugs his left elbow with her two impatient hands and leans her head on his shoulder like Suze Rotolo as they go freewheelin’ to déjeuner. Little birds scatter from a puddle, a flurry of wings, les oiseaux she says under her breath, in kinship. She could live on bread and butter, and strong coffee, bien sûr.
Paloma and Josep sit silently, side by side in a black car, each watching a world blur away through tinted glass. Her hands worry in the nest of her lap like brood mates. His spine is a ramrod. The world is desultory, patches of olive and dun and abandon. Her ring is a dew claw — functionless, prone to catching on things, to getting caught.
Josep Is Away
Paloma is crossing the Pont des Arts. They took down the iron grillwork and the thousands of love locks. The brass Abloy with J+P scratched into the side. Last fall they locked it beneath the third streetlamp and tossed the key into the Seine. It is too hot for September, 30 and humid. Paloma stops, scratches at the bandage wrapped around her left wrist and hand, pokes her fingernail under the flesh-toned wrap and rakes at the skin of the back of her hand. A pigeon flies off with something in its beak. She is staring into the water, how it flows around the footings in ripples that are never urgent. Beyond the shadow, the surface of the water is too bright, full of sky and clouds.
Josep is in the Musée de l’Orangerie, waiting for Paloma. He sits in the center of an oval room surrounded by Monet’s water lilies, une petite tempête, a little storm in the eye of the calm. Paloma is wandering the Jardin des Tuileries, unmindful of the hour. Errant raindrops, carried on the rising wind from some faraway cloud, splat the red clay path. Paloma looks skyward, wondering, while Josep is sitting on the oval bench, head tilted back, his eyes two black slits. He is staring cross-eyed past the semi-opacity of his aquiline nose at an opulence of purple and green wavering in and out of focus, trying to understand whether it would be possible to experience any comfort during a dreamless, endless sleep.
Paloma crosses the Place de la Concorde, walks down the long stairs to the Metro and boards the 8 for Pointe du Lac. The stations pass like days, light and dark, light and dark, the rattle and sway, the rhythm of her newly decided life.