Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Visiting Paris with Robert Bly

I visited Notre Dame Cathedral
and was taken to the Seventh Heaven,
where Saint Paul was mending tents.
He had made errors in his zeal to condemn

rattling, world-weary bones whose only sin
was to have eyes of cinder and rock.
He needed to make amends
by the sweat of his brow,

the long labors born of Eden.
A French waitress died in my arms.
It could have been from a broken heart.
No one really knew,

although the final verse
she offered as poetic prayer
to her cannon of observations
was, “The man in the beret!

The man in the beret!”
I saw a young boy with eyes
of robin’s-egg blue, pale,
launch a sailboat on the pond in the park,

sad that it sailed away to the New World.
It was there that shamans wearing beads
wondered if their lives were at an end
because a strange white cloud skimmed the horizon.

It certainly was. The moon died that day.
At an outdoor café, a comfortable cliché,
I read some poems by Robert Bly.
They were short and simple and very nice.

And so I wrote this one.
I hope you are in the Seventh Heaven, Robert,
but not stitching the sins of canvas tents
that housed a bit of soul.

You did not make the same mistakes as Paul.
Perhaps if he had visited Paris
and kissed a French waitress, sans beret,
he might have had a smoother edge.

~William Hammett

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