By Bruce Hodder

 

The rain was dripping from the winter trees

in Pere Lachaise the day I found Pascale.

Years before, she was my greatest crush,

with those big sad eyes and all her hair piled up

in front. Her high voice curled my toes.

We talked a while. She asked how Paris was

these days. I said, ‘Oh, as cold as ever.

Someone died out on the street last night.’

She asked, ‘Does Paris think of me sometimes?’

I told her yes, but only every day.

She didn’t smile. She seemed preoccupied.

I guessed that maybe Pascale’s thoughts had strayed

to her loved ones, some of whom I vaguely knew.

‘I didn’t want to leave them. But I had to go,’

she said, eyes filling. Then she gazed at me.

‘And you, poor boy. Waiting up so late,

two cushions on the floor, watching out for spiders.

Was I worth it?’ I nodded, found my cheeks were wet.

She wiped them with her thumb, and then she slipped away

like a faun caught leaping by a torch beam slips

into darkness, saying, ‘Bruce, ne m’oublie pas’;

and a tourist crouched, and lifting up his camera,

took pictures of the grave where Pascale’s bones were laid.

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