French City Mystery (a fragment)

Colored by rain one morning
depending on sadness
sighing high houses in the mist
bridges piled on the river
(everything yellow
and falling


We’re here! NaPoWriMo Day 30, prompt is poems in translation. Many years since I studied (not learned) French, but I had fun with the two or three words I recognized in the early stanzas of Charles Baudelaire’s “Les Sept Vieillards.”


Février. The days growing longer but still threatening snow. We took the train from Frankfurt bundled into coats, scarves, the wrong seats set right in our sorry mix of German, English, French. Suitcases bumping cobbles, gray skies; our hotel sunny yellow, its courtyard still filled with green and breakfast elegant on spindly tables—croissants, café au lait—we could have been a painting. Sleet at the Eiffel Tower, rain on the Champs-Élysées and a tea-shop for warming. Lights winking on in the dimness, jardins, musées. We pored over maps, streets radiant, curving, narrow, grand, the river and all its bridges, names hopelessly garbled in our cold laughing mouths. How it never translated to street level; how we felt glad to wonder, to tell ourselves, now we are here.