Paris is a Messy City

Paris is a messy city. Once you are away from its monuments—like giants' mausoleums—all pale grayish whiteish somehow greenish stone (and so cold-looking in winter, that stone) you find its alternate: the very messy city, so messy it seems sometimes to be made from piles of broken rocks, pebbles, bits of glass and buildings, rained-on building materials, sticks. Paris is also city with no scent, once you are away from the places food is cooked, till you come to the vegetable market. There is its true smell, in baskets. Paris is a city where many people hide, and keep their madness, like a beloved pet who is never allowed to stray, or adventure without them.

Its charm is its great messiness, aside from its formal buildings. Paris is a very messy city. And there you may hide like a damaged bird who could fly but will not fly, who chooses to hover near its half-sure source of food, or wait and wait and wait till other birds signal to it with wing-flutter that food is found. He hobbles fast, sometimes finds the food in time, the food that fills him with pride he has half-found food for himself again, so needed that when he finally has it, it is food at its best, when it tastes like sure medicine.

The person who truly loves Paris hears a hard pure melody running through. One instrument. Never more than one. The tune is high above the city and it is not managed. And one narrative, a story of one person tracking down what they have lost, and finding it, and finding it in time. That narrative flies likes unseen silk strands also high above the city. Most cannot hear or see. Paris is a messy city, and only true ears—can hear, can find, its simplicity, its soul full of apologies, unbinding and freeing the bound and trapped, again, again.

I still wait to hear the song, to hear the story. But at least I know it is there. I love myself, and I know I can find it.

Yes, yes, I know I can follow it.

REBECCA PYLE's poems, fiction, and essays are part of now-and-future issues of Posit, Eclectica, Free State Review, Muse/A, Penn Review, Gargoyle, Pangyrus, Guesthouse, Cobalt Review. Pyle is also an artist whose work is published many times over in art/literary reviews and journals (see