It is Friday, around five. He is
strolling on the rue Voltaire, flâneur
for the young century. The afternoon is crumbling,
the trees are shutting down for winter,
leaves pirouetting to the street
and cracking like small bones beneath his feet.
All around him, the streetlights are coming on,
canisters of empire, recalling days
when endings were clamorous.
He stops at a pharmacy, lingers
beneath its green neon cross
and picks up something for the season’s first flu.
Outside, the boulevardes are burning
with bars and cafés, boulangeries
lined with bright, sticky sweets like porcelain toys.
He brushes the shoulder of a blonde woman
in black, says Desolé, passes a tabac
and buys some cigarettes, thinks how quickly
the last packet went. He meets his lover
at the Café Bonne Bierre. It is still
warm enough to sit street-side and smoke.
They rattle around in their half-empty glasses.
Her eyes smoulder, a promise. They touch,
incidentally, finish their drinks
and leave to see the American band.
The hours are tumbling, but they have
plenty of time. They will hear the first, jangling notes.