Bio Note: Among its many fascinations, Paris is a culinary city with 45,000 restaurants—far too many boasting haute cuisine—and an additional 5,000 cafés. In the café culture, people may seem occupied with a book, a laptop, a cell 'phone, their order, but they are always aware of others around them, always snatching glances. For whatever else they may be, here, they are people watchers. (I am reminded of Firestone's vase-like, Shmoo-like characters, "The Watchers,") who have that same empty look, a glaze, I've not only seen in other café dwellers, but in myself; someone watching people watching other people, which hopefully leads to the poem, "Le Select".
Almost every afternoon from spring to fall she may be seen at the same table ordering the expresso first, then a French Malbec, or two if it is a good day, or if it is a bit brisk, or it is drizzling over the canopy, otherwise it’s the whites especially during summer months. The order is followed by a silver cigarette & she allows the smoke to drift upward casually from open lips; otherwise, she appears distant & indifferent. In this way, sipping from cup & glass, two hours pass. Her gloves are black gauze & she is here owing to a moderate inheritance; for many years the absentee proprietor of L’École de Charme for privileged girls of subdued energies, now mothers with summer homes on the coast. Just down the street at another café, is a man her age. He wears a white jacket. They share the same condominium building & do not know this since the building is imposing & they are in different wings. But here they share the terrace of pavement. He is a retired officer of foreign affairs. They will never meet; they would only see themselves in each other, when they would rather see the sleek, the curious, the slight splendors, emaciated models, petty scams & other nuances of the street.
©2021 Michael Gessner
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