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Friday, December 26, 2008

Parisian haiku

Led by Maddy, my wonderfully multilingual daughter, the family has now been to the Louvre, the Pompidou Centre, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, le Marais, and other points about town. We bought week-long passes to public transportation, which whisks us underground to pop us up at our desired destinations with marvelous efficiency.

Along the way, I've written lots of haiku. They're all new enough that it's hard to know if they're any good. But they arise fully formed as we walk the streets. So here are a few of them.

chalices of stars display
along the Champs Elysée:
Christmas in Paris

These "chalices" are some six lines of white lights per tree, rising from the bottom of the branches, and terminating in parallel lines at the top. (These are "plane" trees -- all uniform in size and height on both sides of the street.) Every now and then, one light seems to drip down the line -- falling stars, sliding stars. But the effect of the display is of chalices, goblets of light.

the Eiffel Tower
pulses blue in heavy mist
intermittent rain

It is blue at night, now.

waiting for the lift
dark-haired woman suddenly
has tears in her eyes

This was at the Eiffel Tower, too. As we snaked around the lines to the elevators, I noticed that in an instant her eyes were brimming. She seemed Italian, and was there with a man about her age, two small and beautiful children, and an older woman. Was she remembering something? Longing for something?

chilly Paris street --
walking with his grandfather
boy with red pull toy

It was cold and damp this morning on the Rue Tolbiac - minus 4 Celsius (about 25 degrees Fahrenheit). Grandfather was proud to be walking along, grandson in tow. And grandson was proud to be towing what was no doubt a new Christmas toy.

as the blind black man
comes up the escalator
he raises his toes

Paris has over two million people. The metro and RER stations are often intensely crowded, with many winding lines intersecting at each stop. I saw an elegant looking man, with cane, step confidently off the train, calmly navigate to the escalator, smoothly ride up, and glide off onto the landing. I watched the trick: raise your foot. When your heel hits the floor, step forward. I've been doing it since then, too.

la nuit de Noel
le vin est chaud
et moi aussi

This is a haiku parody by my daughter. I was attempting to write a haiku in French. I had just bought some hot wine as we walked along at night toward the big Ferris wheel, and despite the cold, the drink immediately warmed me. But you don't say you are hot in French, you say you have hot. Otherwise, you get this, which translates:
Christmas Eve/the wine is hot/and I am horny.

But hey, it's Paris. It could happen.


GraceAnne LadyHawk said...

How wonderful to spend Christmas in Paris!

When you get home, you might enjoy reading this:

allanmcdougall said...

Those are great. I love the crying woman.

special empathy
for a crying woman, or

Jamie said...

Both, I think. Paris is beautiful, an Ur city. And I love looking at buildings. But I almost inevitably find people even more compelling. We're all such mysteries -- to others, and to ourselves.

M said...

I've been doing that escalator trick for a while. I am not exactly sure why or when I started.