DE PLUS EN PLUS
At Moulin à Nef (An Artists’ Colony), Auvillar, France
Why do I love it so much
that it’s so full? Maia says, standing
by the Piscine d’été—literally,
the pool of summer. I say I love
it too. It laps up over the edge, spreads
into the foot-wide apron where you’d stand
to jump or sit to slide in.
“Explosive,” Maia says. About what Selene said
about meeting her lover. They were both
with other people. He has three children.
The same with Sophie and Claude-Philippe.
She was married to the young
Tad from Chicago last time
I’d checked. And then the rumor
traveled toward me
in the U.S. What is it about these
Europeans, Maia says,
that they get “explosive”?
Coup de foudre,
both Don and I mumble.
Selene had dished out,
first, the cheese and cornmeal
tart, and then, the tomato one.
Of course, as soon as we left,
Maia remarked that she found
Laurence so attractive.
Then Maia is telling us about
the famous actor hitting on her
in the Hamptons. He
was coming out of yoga; she
was going in. Her handsome now ex-husband
idling in a pick-up
in the parking lot. When she was
at the fellowship in Germany, that actor
emailing her. And then her higher power
let her see him screaming as he tried to shoehorn
a stroller with one of his (three!)
children in it into a tiny car on a Manhattan
street with his lovely
yoga teacher wife patiently
practicing Ujjayi breathing
in the front seat.
At last night’s champagne do, before we started
discussing the ancient wall, near where we were
sitting, that used to fortify the village, before the
tour of the grand maison that included an original Raoul Dufy
(of a person curled up and sleeping, with decorative
wallpaper, not unlike the wallpaper behind the
painting) over someone’s bed (!), a lot of uneven stone
floor, a bat swirling up the narrow staircase
where we did not “tour,” we got onto the topic of foie gras,
how it’s not paté, it’s not cut with anything,
it’s not the liver of a chicken, but of a
duck or a goose. It really is over-the-top.
Selene said she eats it, but
can’t eat much. Maia, of course, bought some
at a shop in the cliffside beau village Saint-Cirq-Lapopie—
which she called Cirq des Popies—
I laughed—critiquing her French, which I’m barely
qualified to do, is about the only edge I can
get over the overwhelming wave of sexuality
directed everywhere, including toward my husband
if he would go for it—she spent one hour
greasing Sherry’s poor helpless husband
at dinner, for example,
after he picked her up from the airport. She said Selene told
her immediately, “Laurence is my lover” and
told her the story of their getting together.
Every woman responds this way.
Maia is a free-roaming charge looking for a ground.
Then she said
she couldn’t open the jar. Paul said, It’s sealed.
Take a knife and pop it.
Maia can’t really be blamed for being preoccupied.
Just the existence of the bidet itself I find
a bit agitating. And there is one next to my husband’s
shower. Let’s just say: In France, making love is like
taking a shower
or drinking a glass of water.
I had to replace my still life.
I waited so long to paint it, I had to eat the first one
(the banana was just ripe; the peach, a dark red
musky red. Its skin
and its velvety meat),
and now the second one is sitting there,
on a formerly fresh white napkin
with blue border, waiting for me. I need to
spray it with acrylic or something, like they do
with sample pastries, that for God sakes you’re
not supposed to eat.
When we were walking up to
Joelle’s last night, two doors up from us on Rue
St. Catherine, on the opposite side,
Sherry popped her head into a small white garage-looking
building right on the street. She
remarks in French the construction project looks good
and M. shoulders her radiance in. It’s Stephan’s.
At the flea market
down by the river the other day, Stephan, popped
out of nowhere to say “Bonjour” to Maia.
Man whose job it is, according to Sophie, to make
every woman he sees feel beautiful.
Then Maia asked Sophie about him and hinted
she wanted to be introduced, but Sophie, ever
feminist, said you should just ask him
out to coffee. Oh, ache.
Like all oddities, the official website says,
the truffle was thought to be
an aphrodisiac. A curative. A sexual jump-start.
To look at Priscilla, one might think the truffle
possesses even more magnetism
than Laurence, or Stephan! What is it that makes the
aroma penetrate the shells of
eggs and people want the special
omelettes. They are packed in rice to
keep them safe, something about
the moisture content. Then
the rice is treasured too. Even
the remaining water from cooking
Everything is unruly! Michel’s very large tomatoes,
and the cherry ones,
his garlic, multitudes of ripe figs—
which are served
stuffed with chèvre and herbs,
roasted with ice cream,
baked in a crumble,
often at the same meal—
in his community garden next door to us.
ladies’ heads on sticks. We are always
au point, circling the rond-point.
up to the very
last moment in the sunny, gilded
evening, water brimming over the lip.