Excerpt from Paris 2019 by Jeanne Wagner

Jeanne’s poem received an Honorable Mention in the Tiferet 2021 Writing Contest and appears in our Autumn/Winter issue which you can purchase today.


You point out the plane trees along the Seine,
their bark surprisingly pale,
as if they’re wearing an older tree’s skin,
my own skin becoming like that, too friable
to scuffle with every sharp corner, every blast
of unseasonable wind. You can tell I’m
wearing my maps on the inside now,
even my watch set to the hour back home.
But those stalls on the Left Bank look
the same as the last time we were here,
not surprising since they’re selling the past—
same prints of Old Masters, same sketches
of the Eiffel Tower, or Notre Dame
before its burn-scars, before tarps thwarted
the rain trying to find a way in. We overhear
a guide explaining the word boulevard once
meant an avenue on the site of an old rampart,
a bulwark to stave off whatever comes. A city,
he said, isn’t built once, but again and again.
The crowd is silent for a few seconds, then,
from the back, I hear someone shout out Amen.
Jeanne WagnerJEANNE WAGNER is the author of four chapbooks and three full-length collections: The Zen Piano-mover, winner of the NFSPS Poetry Prize, In the Body of Our Lives, Sixteen Rivers Press and Everything Turns Into Something Else, published in 2020 as runner-up for the Grayson Books Prize. Her work has appeared in Alaska Review, Cincinnati Review, North American Review, Florida Review, and The Southern Review.

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