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.