Homeless, Paris

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On the Train from Arles 
 
A blind man and his wife and dog
have seats across the aisle.
 
He doesn't see the fatigue in her face.
She is his antonym — petite, where he
is strong and tall; dark, versus his fair
good looks; his eyes protected
by dark lenses, whereas hers are bare;
her features worn by time and care,
while his are young and clear.
 
The little dog peers anxiously
when they briefly disappear.
He fondles it throughout the journey:
vision is a tactile sense.
 
She sleeps, slumped on the fold-down tray.
When she wakes, they speak in low tones
no one else can eavesdrop on.
Their mirth is intimate, prolonged.
 
                            
 
Homeless, Paris
 
I leave the airport shuttle at La Place de la Chappelle,
fresh slush spattering my bags dragged along the rough trottoir
where men in drab clothes swarm and throng, emanate a seething hum
somewhere on a scale between chagrin and hopelessness.
 
Lone men stand at street corners, look on with apathetic eyes,
shabby men from everywhere and nowhere, and beyond.
Their tattered, mud-stained tents are massed beneath the overpass,
misshapen globes the varicose, bruised colour of unhealthy veins.
 
They make me think of tulip bulbs, caught between the seasons' change —
too late for summer's plenitude, too early for the spring.
 
 
 
Renoir's Garden
12 rue Cortot, Montmartre
 
From two hives painted rich gamboge
in what remains of the old copse,
to cherry trees in blossom
flock the spring cohorts of bees.
 
Artists in their own right,
they select the flowers carefully —
pollenators by profession,
delicately hovering, choosing
 
in accordance with arcana
known to them alone,
beneath a sky infused with possibility
in shades of blue, that would have lured
 
the painter and his palette to spring's
vernissage — a master of the evanescent,
present at awakenings;
his workmanship meticulous,
deft as that of bees.
 
The tiny, toiling alchemists
harvest dust they will transform
to liquid gold ambrosia,
sustenance for queens;
 
the food of gods, whose formula
can energise bees' flagging wings,
intimate with flora as no painter
has yet been.
 
The painter's revelation works
through light and shade on surfaces,
whereas the bees decipher codes
of fragrances and essences ... 
 

Jena Woodhouse

Jena Woodhouse's poems have twice been shortlisted for the Montreal Prize. In early 2015 she was awarded a residency at Camac Centre d'Art, Marnay-sur-Seine, France.

Topic tags: Jena Woodhouse, France, Paris, poetry, homeless

 

 

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Existing comments

It's good to read something of France, that brings to mind images other than terror and torment - thank you for "Renoir's Garden" in particular
Nelia | 17 November 2015


Again Jena shows that delicate touch. Compassion and exquisite eye for detail.
Donna Schabe | 17 November 2015


So much admiration for your ability to be 'in the moment' with any of your subjects. You are then able to capture that moment so beautifully for us to share. Thank you!
Toodie | 19 November 2015


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