Fruits de Mer

by Paula Bohince

2011

A swirling blackness in the 20th, only the eyes visible,
or Le Monde on a historic morning, ink-heavy headline heaving
on the ground like a soldier who cannot stop the dark
from leaving his body. At Père Lachaise,
a coven of teenagers in black trench coats gathers,
like unfurled umbrellas, at Jim Morrison’s grave,
there to light a candle to their idol’s bones. A former America’s
Sweetheart played his girlfriend in the biopic.
Shocking to see her on heroin, whining Jim, Jim, with beads in her
hair. Another image-makeover, and she’s a slain Army
captain in Kabul, or was it Baghdad, or elsewhere? She kept at it
until youth left her, and now her face is ruined.
At Les Invalides, a taxidermied horse is the last sight
at the end of a corridor, a prize or cordial for enduring the war
placards. In cardinal red, the general is bemused, assured,
landing like a gangster bird anywhere he fancied.
Better an actual cardinal than more bloodshed.
Better a dove or a hawk, the predator caught on video attacking,
with talons, a drone, which seemed a victory for Nature.
This is the Age of Photographs, blown-up
Syrian children on the Pont des Arts where initialed locks
promise unbreakable love, keys scuttling through the Seine.
In flock-formation, helicopters arrive in Pakistan.
Bin Ladin’s dead, Justice est faite, served like something delicious.
Justice as a concept is both annealing and a terror. Let’s go,
instead, to that place where Hemingway wrote and order
fruits de mer, its extravagant seduction, prelude to
buttery lovemaking. It’s so outrageous, if we had to pay first
we’d never do it. But oh how the oyster trembles in the throat,
prawns like mistresses in the bed of a lobster king, bewitching him.
Towering rubble of mussels, the Belgians eat the rest by
using the first one’s shell as a pincer. They held the Maginot Line
for three days before it was broken, becoming a historical joke.
Three days is nothing, a Memorial Day weekend, digging clams
at the seashore and laughing at how fast it goes.

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