I have only been to Paris once, but the first time I went in 2016, it felt as if I had lived many lives in and around her city.

Recent news of flames engulfing the majestic Notre Dame reminded me of its importance, my privilege of having seen it up close, and the impermanence of most everything, including this historic treasure that has chipped a piece of my heart and kept it, since the day we met.

Here’s a poem I wrote from a couple of months ago, a piece I had written as the Parisian I never was, but always could become, when I escape into my words and onto the many lives I wish I had lived.

Paris
I
There is a vast emptiness waiting to be filled
There is struggle for joy in a time of grieving.
There are spaces in between the lives we will have lived
There are longings to be kept in longing without fruition
II
We once took the city and stomped its grounds,
We once left our doubts where love was found
In trembling cusps of hands that hold, 
Relentless lusts of life in bold. 
Vivid and stark, with works of art, 
and hearts that cling though torn apart.
We rushed around the Arc at two
And watched the sky turn orange from blue
Atop the tower where lights would dance
As time would pass in coloured trance
We swept the Louvre and saw her smile
We sat outside and drank our wine
You kissed me slowly by the Seine
We fell in love in Notre Dame
 
The cobbled streets where we would dance
Beneath the lamps, in rushed romance
The breathless laughs, your tireless gaze
My paramour consumed my days 
III
Til one summer morning
We sped out of course
You took all our longings
And elsewhere you poured
You doused her in sunlight
And took her apart
You hollowed your reasons
To replace my heart
Consumed in delight 
Of thick summer’s air
You paid me no mind
As I walked up the stairs
To find you in bed 
Riding her skin
Your hands in her hair
My soul on a string
Drowned in our covers
You sank in between
New worlds to discover
The rest was a dream
IV
Here lies the great divorce 
of our love and my loss:
The ricochet of time,
 the dissolve of all that was
The friends who had to choose, 
The drag of each lit cigarette
The whiskey and the blues, 
The aftermath of what was left
I draw the curtains in, 
And watch this city die 
The lights that lined my memory
I dimmed with each good bye
Good bye to the tower, 
The river, and the Louvre
Good bye to my dear city, 
The truths I thought I knew
I’d say good bye, my lover
But these nights have proven true
After all that I’ve uncovered
I still long the nearness of you
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