27 rue de Fleurus

I was there, where you didn’t notice me, a ghost in the gallery you built so crowded and uncurated that the eye grew dizzy from wandering. I was at your knee with Hemingway, listening to you tear apart and paste back together every work of words from here to Shakespeare. You laughed, and your eyes lit up and your hands fluttered like newspapers tumbling down the rue.

It was close and warm in the little room, heated by the minds and bodies of an era all jostling each other and kicking up sparks. I worried that a loose spark would set the whole thing ablaze, decades of prints and paintings and bloody genius all up in a cloud of smoke, to settle over the city in a blanket of unremarkable matter. But there was only one genius lost that year, and she was on the other side of the river, her face and her vices unknown to you.

All the questions on that day were ones you didn’t want to answer: “What do you think of him? What do you think of the book?” they asked. You said, “I have had the pleasure of not meeting Mr. Joyce yet,” and thus you captivated and clung to your flock for a few days more.

I forgot that I was a ghost, and tried tugging at your sleeve while you marched through the Luxembourg Gardens with your little wife. I wanted to ask you questions, too. I wanted to hand you a few leaves of paper and wait for your damnation or redemption to fall on the back of my head.

But I looked up and you had already proceeded out through the gate, and somebody else was stopping you in the street. You took the stack of paper that they handed you and tucked it under your arm, then continued on your way.


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