By Juliette Guéron-Gabrielle
Locked in, a circle on a metal ground,
Practical jokes, impractical legs,
Expressions, words, I am above the world,
Or below, or removed, or floating,
I am not here, I eat wrapped food,
Comforting, the same
Sriracha to standardize taste,
Hot coffee, tasty, tasteless
Wooden benches, neat tables,
I hold your hand, I walk around.
London fox run on pavements, said someone, somewhere,
I saw the light, the trees,
Another day I had to organise, divide.
Sometimes my mobile app,
The abstract one that subtracts pounds,
Forces me on the train home,
It runs three times a day,
Sometimes it is the voice of my brother.
Mostly, I wander,
Trackies, train tracks,
The soft smell of small European cities on Sundays,
Suitcases pile up, time passes, it is June, cotton skirts, and Italy already.
Cigarettes neatly elongate my
Arm better than many a loving embrace.
Cigarettes remind me of sitting by the Seine in groups of people,
Any group really, groups of people I have fought with, forgotten since,
A person whose life-long love interest I have slept with
In an apartment made of a single-glass panel,
A neat kitchen with biscuits we split in the morning.
Shared cigarettes and their
One-group-wolf-like-smell, shared cigarettes
I have left behind
Ever since the people in suits,
Decided cigarettes were something of the past, something atavistic,
An embarrassing remnant of something that had been and no longer was.
I don’t smoke and days feel
Strange, breathing does not come with any
Excitement, I cannot sit by the river that runs through Home anymore.
Other people sit by the Seine, eyes lit up by phone-lamps,
They smoke the hours away, and I do not look like a
Paris girl anymore, my grandma knows,
She grew up in between countries, refugee-parents,
Grew up in between past and present.
Far from the Seine,
In another country of the bordered world,
I like to sit on my desk, my wooden, formatted desk.
In the new city, I know the sounds,
Know my steps and the chilli stand,
It reminds me of my trip with A. to the East,
It was shabbat, there was tahini, olive oil, pitta bread.
In the new city, I can walk without thinking,
Walk without missing, walk with discipline.
I have a blond friend,
Who brings laughter, warmth, everywhere,
And other people, too.
There is a lot to see, watch, attend,
I do not think about borders, distances,
I act, and react, and go along,
Shining eyes, infinite excitement, days, nights
Stretching beyond their acceptable limits.
Restless nights, and tired mornings when
I sit on my desk to watch the tree opposite,
The unpretentious tree rising above.
At 7:45, the sky is threaded with a single pink streak,
I would like to watch it even after it has faded,
The day would slowly melt away, a candle flickering,
I am happy, except when I write.
There is, at home, a grey couch,
I need to know that I could, potentially, a few borders away,
Surrounded by car fumes, home-food, home-warmth,
Approach it with virginal shyness, and light-blue caution.
It would embrace me, stabilise my thoughts,
Accept me, hold me, until I
Neatly fit into the fragmented world of the Machine,
World of The Border, the Moving Individual,
The Divided Pack, The Unsmoked Cigarette,
The long, wooden desk beside the collapsed tree,
The 7:45 pink streak I watch with friends.
Photo taken by the author.