Remembrance…like the one from yesterday, the one you’d set in motion with the ease of Chopin gathering waves.

 

Paris, such melodrama. Por quoi? This is only au revoir, nowhere close to adieu. And yet these sudden tears. You flood my soul with the crestfallen temper of the moon on overcast nights, its countenance held hostage by the whims of mist, its beauty anchored to the swaying fate of a few sailors adrift in turbulent seas. Your skies have been a brooding infliction of thought, tear, tremor, tryst, tinder, and making its way through it all, the sharpened shards of recollection. Remembrance needn’t necessarily be steeped in the ancient past, some fresh lyrics were birthed from the moment dawn’s whispers infiltrated these eyes. Like the one from yesterday, the one you’d set in motion with the ease of Chopin gathering waves.

The Seine had tempest on its breath. Each prolonged sigh held the culmination of a lover’s desperate desire for perfection, of a drunkard’s whiskey-soaked lullaby for the inexplicable mess of his privately entwined sorrows, of a dancer’s rhapsody at finding what was lost between the spaces, of an artist’s inhalation of turpentine emulsified with the brutal bliss of trepidation, of a poet’s elixir lost to the rebellious radiance of a muse gone awry… the Seine had tempest on its breath, rising, rising, rising…Beneath a sweeping canvas of yet to blossom rose, Paris you were the climax of flood, fire, flame, fulmination, and frescoes of forever, your early morning neighbourhoods a penniless poet’s sum desire for absence, penance, resonance, his aching hiss for acquiescence, his thrilling desire for luminescence…

 

Your skies have been a brooding infliction of thought, tear, tremor, tryst, tinder, and making its way through it all, the sharpened shards of recollection.

 

Come this morning, you’re a temperamental lover aren’t you? With your skies set to fission, your poetry set to denial, and your words set to erasure, I’m in desperate need of ink and fable. What has brought this on, departure perhaps? These near-empty streets, stripped off finery, carry soft, mellifluous strains of the time Jeff Buckley sold his soul to the devil at L’Olympia, his heart stymied by Lover, you should’ve come over, emptied over the near whisper-like penumbra of Lilac Wine, caressed by the sensual deception of Hallelujah, roused to playful reminiscence by Je n’en connais pas la fin, before finally being instigated toward disappearance through the bloody catharsis of That’s all I ask. I hum a few strains here and there. I amble, which is what I’ve always wanted to do. The act of walking, clearly, seems a professional undertaking these days. The Closerie de Lilas hasn’t even bothered to open; Café Flores lies bathed in flourishing fur and cultivated stares, so it’s the café by Shakespeare’s storied porch for me.

 

Paris you were the climax of flood, fire, flame, fulmination, and frescoes of forever, your early morning neighbourhoods a penniless poet’s sum desire for absence, penance, resonance, his aching hiss for acquiescence, his thrilling desire for luminescence

 

Voltaire, Baudelaire, you name it, they inhaled this, this mythical swirl of perfection that bleeds through the eyes and those silent vapours of shimmering stillness that seep through the pores. As your slow deliberate tears begin to fall like meditative diamonds on this window, the café becomes a harvester of memories barely sown: of the Place des Artes and its cafés creaking beneath the weight of conversation stolen and revolutions arisen from so many centuries past; of Les Deux Magots and those morning demi-blonds that bear artistry, poetry, and the unexpected after-burn of misery, nourished by Hemingway’s cocky precision and Picasso’s perverse obsessions as they are; of her apartment, framed in gilt-edged whispers of something borrowed, something blue, its air ravenous for our mystic ardour laced with the contemplative echoes of beauty, blood, whiskey, and wine; of rue Mouffetard on Sunday mornings, when street buskers with the flailing goodbyes of fading dreams in their eyes and those fromageries and boulangeries exhaling fragrances cast in yesterday dance together in the lost joyousness of mariners vanished at sea; of Saint-Severin and its stained-glass contemplations casting multi-coloured reflections of betrayal, faith, urgency, desperation, nay, salvation upon the wide-eyed faithful; of this bookstore beside me and its air of lingering melancholy, harbinger of the Beats and the Losts and the hymns and the ghosts and the lies and those unexpected glimpses of sky from an upstairs betrothed to legacy, reverberation, conspiracy, such dark, musty togetherness; and of her skin against the rain, a glistening memoir of our rushed conversations and our unrushed love, hers, porcelain, azure, sun-kissed, mine, dark, russet, tempest, our bodies breathless for each others’ desires, a beautiful motion of effluence and redolence, our lives mired in the collision you’d created, Paris, you with all your fragile beauty, you with all those sweetly spoken soliloquys, our hushed, ardent breaths nothing but echoes of our longing for a moment and a feeling that we had no ownership over.

 

nourished by Hemingway’s cocky precision and Picasso’s perverse obsessions as they are; of her apartment, framed in gilt-edged whispers of something borrowed, something blue, its air ravenous for our mystic ardour laced with the contemplative echoes of beauty, blood, whiskey, and wine; of rue Mouffetard on Sunday mornings

 

Great men have fallen at your hands, this much is true. And a great many love affairs have faltered, perhaps led astray by this façade of nostalgia that hovers like a nagging dream. There is a strange singular moment in the afternoons when the breeze picks up and chills the skin as though it were bearing portents from the past. This is when you, Paris, cease to be. And this is when your sons and your daughters drift by in the silent opera of human lives.

 

The Closerie de Lilas hasn’t even bothered to open; Café Flores lies bathed in flourishing fur and cultivated stares, so it’s the café by Shakespeare’s storied porch for me.

 

Some bear silent grief over those reasons that befall us all, be it regret be it death be it lack be it loss. Some sip half glasses of beer or swirling waves of café in bars and bistros where the beast that is yesterday holds all the cards. This is when you are at your most beautiful, stark and bare and so breathlessly human. And this is when my thoughts of her are crystal, freed from chains of dependency. Your streets, your arrondissements, your precise quadrants of flood and flame, this is where my thoughts of her are free to float and prosper, freed from concepts of what if and what now.

Your tears on this window have gathered into small rivulets. Each memory of the past few days comes blessed with an instant veneer of wanting to ache, wanting to feel, wanting to hold, wanting to own. There is beauty in this evanescence. It’s only now that I understand the reasons for your temperamental skies this morning. You haven’t been moody, you haven’t been sulking.

 

This is when you are at your most beautiful, stark and bare and so breathlessly human. And this is when my thoughts of her are crystal, freed from chains of dependency. Your streets, your arrondissements, your precise quadrants of flood and flame, this is where my thoughts of her are free to float and prosper, freed from concepts of what if and what now.

 

You’ve only been a conspirator of sorts, burning the beauty of the past few days and nights into my skin, then, simply, keeping those thoughts, breaths, words, and denouements stored within an eternal frame of rain-kissed romance. This is you, Paris, and I’m not upset anymore. I’m not even longing anymore. I’m just staring. This window, your tears, this street, those umbrellas being whisked open by rushing passers-by, I keep staring. Until our recent past and this morning merge and bathe in the elixir of their unified dalliance. This is you, Paris, and this is me, parts ephemera, parts synecdoche.

 

Paris, November ’15

 

Siddharth Dasgupta

Siddharth Dasgupta

Siddharth Dasgupta is an Indian poet and author, his first novel is Letters from an Indian Summer. His words have appeared in Cha, Sunstruck, Kitaab, and Bath Fiction, amongst others. He also written for Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveller, Eat Stay Love, the Tibet Foundation, and the Dharamshala International Film Festival. A new short story collection (World Rights open) and an unpublished hybrid of experimental poetry are his current literary preoccupations. He lives in Poona.

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