From The Tower of Song

Dear Leonard, you will continue to sing and speak to us from the Tower of Song but let me just say that I did speak to you before you passed, in a poem I wrote – you might not remember! – that time you saved me. It is published in The Longing & Other Fairytale Feelings – yes, that’s right!, it was you that taught me about The Longing. And we need you too, especially during this war, we need your words, your voice, you. So now, as you take this waltz above (you have already been beyond!), I hope you will think of us too, speaking, singing, to you, through the Tower of Song.

(Pardon my French, I’ve never been very good at it!)

Mike Jahn LC.jpg

Mike Jahn on Flickr

Don’t Mention The War

Bonjour mon cherie

Welcome to Les Landes

Pine tree city

Where human complaints are of barking deers

Who eat all of the flowers, drives them to tears

And of rugged boars who dig up the grass,

Oh, a family of five, we shall let them pass.

Typical sloped Les Landes houses

Dress the forest, a hamlet here, a village there, scattered

They aren’t that much different to the houses

We saw at the eco museum in Marquez

With large living rooms and bedrooms with tiny, high beds

Feathered around like a heavy winged bird

Like the owl we hear at night who’s call sounds to me

Like a man lost in the woods calling merde!!

In the tiny kitchen bruised toed women fight to do the dishes

So I keep my toes, with their month-old, red toenail polish

Out of the way. I would hate to drop a dish,

Not because of the polish

But in case it were an antique

Or in case the hassle will cause your mother any stress

Which may – no will! – be fired back at me any time soon.

I’ve heard about your sister in law

Who was responsible for the baking dish that dropped to the floor

Like your German mother’s history we don’t mention the war.

We drive along the tight road in an old Renault,

Fearful of going over sixty for the beast is slow

On the brakes, but she tempts us. We admire

The french windows and doors

And you tell me about how your mother

– a tasty bird, as Big Al would say – was once refused a dance

When a Frenchman found out she was German and I think

Have I been here before? No, but back in history class

We would joke – don’t mention the war!

On your right is the church and on the left

Is the old gestapo headquarters

With a nice Citroen family car parked on the front lawn

Where the boars have also found their feast but

We still don’t mention the war.

My toes are close to being bruised and so I leave to take a walk

In the woods and I think back, Leonard Cohen prompts me

Take This Waltz – no the Frenchman wouldn’t.

And from the stories Big Al has told

There have been many people walking to the train station

Their raincoats bearing a rip on one shoulder

And divorce papers thrown to the floor

Myself not excluded, even at twenty eight

But I don’t mention the war.

I come across the gites and there is a Frenchman

With a hunting gun so I keep

My head down and I walk past their borders

Past their electric fences

And I think this is France.

Come over to the window mon cherie

And share this with me

Before the deers come to eat

The rest of the flowers, before we have to say au revoir.

Published in The Longing & Other Fairytale Feelings by Tracie Lark 2014