Persistent Memory: Giverny
Inside Monet’s house, copper pans
hang against blue wallpaper.
Bright yellow walls display
vivid canvas vignettes.
Outside, beneath weeping willow,
his green rowboat swings in the wind.
Watercolors immortalize shadows,
brilliant pastiche of flowers.
Overlapping lily pads float upon
shimmering pond, refract wavy
impressions of wisteria, arching Japanese bridge,
feathery clumps of golden Nandina.
Imitative painters set up easels,
create persistent memories
of inverted pink roses, liquid
This is opulence on a scale that staggers,
in-your-face ostentation, oblivious privilege.
Gold leaf encrusts fantastical murals, carved ceilings.
Crystal chandeliers blaze, illuminate hallways.
Mirrors, tapestries, priceless art transform grand apartments
into vivid galleries of inflated heroism within a lifeless museum.
Marble statues tower over courtiers, royalty, servants,
turn a blind eye to indiscretions, overlook peccadilloes.
Each immense room is cluttered with treasures.
Windows far from revolutionary rabble frame formal gardens.
For hours we meander narrow Parisian streets,
explore markets with piles of vegetables, ripe fruit,
keep the distant spire of the Eiffel Tower,
our eventual destination, in sight.
It’s early June, baking sun overhead.
Men and women, sweat circles under arms,
boil from Metro stations,
clutch books, valises, string shopping bags
filled with cheese, sausages, bread.
We walk and walk and walk,
pass Les Invalides, pause to appreciate shade.
The Seine smells of urine and death.
By the time we reach lawn
beneath the tower’s east leg,
I am hot, hungry, cranky as hell.
That’s when he presents me a ring,
pops the question, seems none too surprised
as I smile and say Yes.
Later, he tells me it was a sure thing.
We’ve been housemates for years.
If I’d refused said No,
where the hell would I live?
Jennifer Lagier is currently considering a new career as a snake charmer.