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Monday, March 22, 2010

The Hotel on Paris du Nord

Hotel Apollo in Paris Gare du Nord

1

we chatted for a while,
breathlessly caught up in our runaway,
ending up in a shanty hotel
just opposite Paris Gare du Nord,

we had travelled for more than a day,
had been running for a lot more,
and had fallen with a crash
on the hotel's creaky bed, to wake its
cockroaches from beneath
gunning for our heads,

you had screamed at one, I had laughed
asking you to let the living alone,
and we had talked about
going to the Louvre, or the Champs Elysée,
or streaking across the Notre Dame
at the peak of twilight,

and we made love as the Paris sunlight
sluiced through the dirty
net curtains stuck with fly paper glue,
with each break we got up to go,
but fell again victim to the flow
of learning who we were
in that old hotel room at the Apollo;

then night came in Paris like Quasimodo
banging his bells; its night lights streamed
through the curtains stronger
than the sunlight, filling
the cracks in the ceiling
that had seemed to grow
as I grew with you,

the walls were peeling
I noticed, as we showered
and undressed yet again, until
the maid threw us out banging
out in Algerian French something
about the despicable Parisian,
and you had screamed back
like a defiant young Turk;

I looked on amazed, British sensibilities
cringing on the war-front,
yet admiring you still
had the energy; in Paris etiquette
was for the restaurant you told me,
not for the bed
and not for lovers
writing their history.

2

we picked up our hearts
left in our shoes, and ran,
laughing in the night of a city
that seemed upside down
with all its shining bulbs,
as though the stars had fallen
to light the ground
for the feet of the French;

we tried to delicately tip-toe
around the city's stench, but it
mocked us rather less subtly
with the homeless asleep
outside on the step
of the local shops, and the police
with stern faces locked on their guns
strapped to their sternums,

this is the dirt you need to see
the city said, but we were in love,
and skipped the sinner
of every street and saw instead
a church on every corner,
I was in Paris with you after all,

Paris was your eyes, your mouth,
Paris was a fire
burning, a torch that burned bright
as we lost ourselves
in its convoluted metro,
and ignored the frowns
of those with the decency
never to let go,

you showed me the sights,
I wanted to take you
to the most expensive place
I could find, but you just
dragged me back to
our old hotel room
to dine on food of a different kind,

we chimed our own bells,
struck our own chords,
my stomach was a drum
beating to a beat
that needed the rhythm
you gave me, and we played
sweet music as the cockroaches
roamed beneath the floorboards

we creaked; they sneaked
out to the city of light,
as we fuelled our own fires;
with each flame burning a little more,
in that shanty hotel,
close to where the trains roar,
we had come alight
just off the Gare du Nord.

From the collection: "From Paris, In Love" (Turkish Vistas) >>

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