This Is The Truth
Do you remember the first night? Remember the wind whistling on the métro or how the linden roots seemed to tap into the whole city until it flowed in the branches of our lungs, too? Remember, those blue hallways of the Holiday Inn after dark, how they stretched to fit us and sent our laughter to the walls? We had to peel it off, skin off an orange.
Paris was the only city I let melt around me: didn’t worry about the pickpockets, said that no one steals in a place so Holy and if they do I’ll let them, said that well, that isn’t true, but it doesn’t really matter. Felt weightless but unsteady, ordered pizza and tripped over the r in margherita, felt weightless but unsteady. Curled up against Shannon, against a stone wall older than my grandmother, did the math but didn’t need to, lichen-green stains a sort of dead giveaway.
But here’s the takeaway: I’ll remember everything until there’s nothing. The images leak eye-to-brain, honey poured onto my tongue just the way I like it. Played cards until my poker face wore out, spilled over to tell you all how it felt when I fell in love for the first time and how it bordered on obsession, how it was red painted orange. Listened to Caroline tell me of the pit inside her stomach and her gift in giving massages, as if they both held equal weight, as if the latter could make us forget about the former. An accordian accompanies the air conditioner as it rumbles, spits to a start. But my sheets soak of silence, the kind of silence that chatters along.
Here’s the quiet: took your picture for the first and last time, saw your smile but not how the leaves shaded your face or how I should have noticed that when this is developed it’ll be nothing. Sat you down to talk about your medicine, sat you down to talk about your illness and mine, sat you down to hear it from the source, that yes, you were doing better, even happy, though your smile was too often tight-lipped.
Heard unfamiliar sirens but ignored them.
So do you remember that last day? Remember how Amboise and framboise sounded the same when we were hungry? Remember telling me that I needed to smile for real, needed to give you something true, or else you’d keep the camera in front of my face all day long? I always liked the lens best when in front of your hands, anyway.
When I think of France I’ll always think of us all, tangled in the same sheets and clamoring, all at once, for our bath faucet because we couldn’t figure out how to turn on the shower.
And I’ll think of you specifically, little Miss, crossing the veil, smelling like stale earth and carrying a thinly opened smile, still demanding that I just tell the truth.