A Paris Blackbird
by Laure-Anne Bosselaar
Along the Seine’s left bank, near the Pont-Neuf, on the mansard roof of my hotel, a scruffy blackbird squats by a chimney pot. Every day for a week now, I have listened to him sing his April a cappella.
Not once has he repeated the same song, not once has he left
for the chestnut trees by the river, where he would have a better chance of being heard, a better chance of enchanting some bronze-breasted female,
or lovers taking time off from noise. His song is all that counts.
It soars over roofs and terra-cotta chimneys, its trills cut by taxis,
cars and trucks coughing through the Parisian rush.
On the right bank of the Seine, three hours into Le Louvre’s maze, past Persian mosaics, glass-caged coins and Egyptian amulets, I slip out of the tourist herd and head for a chair in a corner of the Greek Hall.
I sit there, shoeless, numb with knowledge and history and stare at the bust of an old woman, labeled Anonymous, Greek, 11 BC. She looks at me: weary, terrible with banality, lips open, neck taut as if she were about to sing.
And as the crowds flock toward the Venus de Milo, nod at her beauty, gawk at her perfect breasts, I look at this nameless woman, as I did the scruffy blackbird—and listen for the cry caught in her bronze throat.
Photo: MjYj, used with permission