1. Sunday Bells
Sundays in Paris unsettle us with silence.
The grumble of traffic stays dream-distant,
an argument with air in a language
we apprehend with our senses, its light fur
the only foreignness against our skins
when we wake. With the curtains closed
we could be anywhere.
Doodling dialogues of slow shoes
under our windows; in the distance, bells.
Then the phone spins the world like a marble.
Someone at the bottom of the globe
wants us back with them — and suddenly
the heart of this moment is Sydney Harbour blue.
There is a red-bellied black snake crossing the road,
leaving the unmown grass beside the belling
agapanthus on our long footpath
toward yachts. Its long rope tugs
a sonic boom . . .
Afterwards, turning our tongues toward familiar
translations of breakfast,
we sleepwalk the moonsurface of milk,
almost boiling for coffee. Sunburnt croissants
flake into our hands like paperbark.
A pigeon and a sparrow supervise sunlight
reluctantly at work on the stilled concrete
of the building site too-few wingspans
from our window. Chilled wind
tugs early walkers toward private pilgrimages,
gasping up song scores, film posters —
exclamations from the past
piled on black stalls beside the Seine.
I open the glass for a gust
and as casually as a cat slinking home, its fur
still warm with adventure,
my new neighbourhood shawls me
with the smell of someone, somewhere,
cooking cake . . .
The phone roosts on the bookshelf, restless
as a pigeon. In other people’s kitchens
timers tick . . .
We tumble out onto footpaths
underneath unexcited windows. We tumble out —
swinging on ropes of curiosity and hunger
into air which startles us
within suddenly cold-as-metal skin. Our voices chime
the emptied streets:
It is Sunday. This is Paris! . . . Carillons begin.
(From Travelling with the Wrong Phrasebooks 2012)