Thursday, January 20, 2011


(Contemplating Yvon's Paris, 1920-1935)

His photographs
are gathered from rare
booksellers along the Seine.

Left too long
In light and dust
they reveal Paris
In a sallow haze.

The gargoyle
on Notre Dame’s brow
overlooks dawn, the cloud sprawl
low enough
to loosen rain

and camouflage a flock
of birds resettling
into Spring, old roof tops.

A man
leaning from his ladder
prunes the bush
of a Tuilleries’ urn,

possibly hears
the mouth of Marie
her headdress is too bare.

And the table
with no patrons
just a glass
and girl’s face sketched
on paper

haunts that niche
of bistro where
is safeguarded,

where my gaze
becomes the shock, shutter click
of recognition.
Her face is mine –

decades young,
portrayed as lonely
by some Louvre student
I can’t remember,

and this famous man
angling for scenes
in the distance, in a city’s
sequel to war.

Yvon also known as Pierre Yves Petit was a famous photographer who captured Paris in those decades between WWI and WWII. Characterized as a "flaneur" or person who strolls through any scene with a poetic eye , he defined the city through pictures that reflected the natural and human side of the urban landscape. He often preferred to use his camera during early or late hours of the day, the light was softer and more dramatic. Many of his subjects included Cathedral gargoyles, barges on the canal, garden scapes of Luxembourg/Tullieries, bistros and book stalls along the Parisian quais or river front. I have fictionalized his subject matter a bit with the description of the last photograph. It allows the speaker to interject herself into the moment, into the surprise of discovering she was inadvertently one of his subjects from a collective point of view, the corner table in a cafe. He angled his scenes with landmarks and people who were guardians of Parisian beauty, loneliness, whimsy, solitude and so much more. I was really spellbound by his work which can be found here --

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