1 - PARIS

Ms Blithe is in Montmartre
sipping burgundy, dipping
a torn-off hunk of crusty baguette
into steaming onion soup.
The air is full of
coffee and Chanel,
of rolling 'r's, and eloquent
gesticulation.

On the table, by her hand,
a fountain-pen, plump, gold-nibbed
lolls like a sated lover
against a leather notebook
its thick bond pages
tattooed with an inky scrawl of
utter profundity. The thin, dark women
teetering on their stiletto heels
spot the pen, the book,
the ink stains on her fingers,
and their expressions, at first
contemptuous of her pallor
and her pudge
shift - perhaps even soften,
if cosmetic authority allows -
"Une artiste," they murmur
Before clicking on past.

Ms Blithe welcomes the heavy tick
of a public clock, leading towards
the evening Armagnac
at Jean-Christophe's
but she does not long, as drones do,
for its hands to sweep,
does not yearn after five.

In Ms Blithe's perfect Paree,
Renaults and Citroens
dart past in an absence
of exhaust fumes
their horns
sounding without fury
an auditory Gallic shrug.

The Brie, gooey-soft, still
has that sharp tang of excitement
and the crumbs of her bread
tumble like snowflakes,
all into her soup
except for the three or four
which fall on the pavements
for the pigeons in the plane trees
who coo, but never shit.

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