what’s in a name? A meal by any other name
would smell as good…
In 1765, M. Boulanger (well named) , a humble
soup-vendor, opened an establishment,
whose soups and broths he rightly called
‘restaurant’, for they were restorative…
Watch this old French film: its very flickering
and jerking seems to give it life: waiters
in their long aprons, whisk in and out
to serve these terrace tables which we’re watching
as that accordeon wheezes, or
the barrel-organ evocatively, endlessly,
rolls out its sentiments..
black berets; scarves; thoughtful Gauloise smoke;
the girls, neat hair; that simple chic
that rich and poor Parisiennes seem alike to share;
this contented man, almost a stereotype
(and yet, he lives a life..) , rather overweight,
has evidently just emptied his plate,
lights his cigar; complacent? Or,
in so civilised a measure,
restored to his former self?
This pair of lovers, evidently
having had a tiff, their coffees yet undrunk,
talk into each other’s pleadfire eyes,
reaching in them for a heart;
ah, now she stretches out her hand
across the table to seek his;
the accordeon plays its triumphant banality:
their love, restored..
See there, at the furthest table,
that heavy, bereted, pipe-smoking man
who writes intensely; looks up briefly;
curtly indicates to that young girl
to sit with him, but not to interrupt:
isn’t that face familiar, at this Left Bank table?
Is he restoring a familiar world
to sing the barrel-organ’s tune;
or looking into a nothingness,
a being, a becoming, which will
in time, shatter all café-table minds,
steal waiters from their life of service,
yield Calais’s burghers to Hamburg’s faster food? …
or will the world read; worship for a space;
and then, from black-clad existentialness,
restore itself to brighter mental dress?
Café tables, open to the warm Spring air:
so old a tune, perhaps; but love is there..

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *