Archie’s Paris

(in memory: E.A. Markham)


I intend, of course, to live forever
you once chuckled, so I have three days
to search the city trying to conjure
some icy dimension where you can shine
alive for a moment; right here would do
by the Arc De Triomphe on a freezing night
as one year cannons into another.

Poems are gifts, you continued, tell me
why do you make your gifts so badly?

We collapsed in tearful laughter,
stumbling along the Crescent,
this morning the air in the Tuileries
is cutting and cold, it blurs my eyes
will we meet by the iron tree?

Was it you who offered to draw my likeness
up at Montmartre, did I see you crammed
onto the steps of Sacre Coeur?
For two nights now I have been woken
by a terrible voice, one of the damned
was it you screaming or some homeless soul
drunk in the echoes of Saint Lazare?

You didn’t show at the market this morning
on the Boulevard Des Batignoles
I bought bread and cheese for the crossing
made you a gift, however clumsy
of course I found you at my elbow
rapid eyes quick with mischief,

Tell me,
you said, do I look like your mother?



David Harmer