Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof

European Diary: Café Claude Bernard, rue Claude Bernard; 11:50 a.m., Tuesday; June 22, 2004; Paris, France

In Europe, European Diary on December 8, 2004 at 6:00 pm

Waiting for our wash. As we left, a lovely specimen of Parisian womanhood was kneeling on the floor of the laundromat sniffing pants. Vive le France.

Last night S. and I walked around the Latin Quarter and St.-Germain des Pres with D., my photographer friend from Boston, during the annual Night of Music. At the end I added a Sancerre to my eau de vie and was exhausted and crazy and overwhelmed. D. was a crazy as he was in Boston, veering around the half-closed streets like a psychotic Shriner. Paris looks exactly like you think it would, with its cream-coloured apartment blocks with their dormered, blue-grey slate rooves. Everything is Hunchback of Notre Dame or fin de siécle or Picasso and Modigliani.

***

The Idols

To sleep amidst your idols from Oceania and Guinea, these are Christs of another form. – G. Apollinaire

These are Christs of another form,

Born before the stellar storms began

That made time. In their polished faces

Shine the deep remembrances

Of starless skies and, in that mortal instance

Of unfolding fire, the first surprise

And sorrow of the prison gate. There issued

Then by slow dawning on the stage

Of ages those actions that could only

Angle out from matter in a rupture

Of infinity. But they have fixed

Their empty eyes on moments prior

To the moment when moments were possible,

To stare again on perfect skies,

Unstained by stars, outside of time.

The Wine

At first you drink for the intoxication,

The repeated dream of an ecstatic birth.

The wine is just a means of transportation,

A vehicle to slip the bounds of earth.

But when the first flush of drunkenness subsides

The spent lees lie heavy on the tongue

And the drinker learns in cruel sobriety

A lesson he could never master drunk.

Taste through ages deepens, as does wine,

Like a crude idea that a poet works

Until the point complexity abides

The sacrifice of ornament for truth.

In time the wine is more than what we taste

And taste exceeds the wine on which it’s based.

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