Clou de la Fou

IMG_1267I’m walking down rue Voltaire
under a bright blue mountain sky.
It’s spring equinox. The world turns.
And I’m thinking that Home

has many meanings for the
wanderer. He admires the
cliffs where the river Agly
slices through granite hills

to form the narrow defile
called Crazy hereabouts.
Vernal light paints the granite silver,
a wall implacable, unyielding . . . but crazy?

Around the corner on Avenue Bonnefoi
a man is at work painting faithfully
a wrought iron driveway gate
spotted with terracotta red primer.

He holds a can of paint, dark green
vert foncé. He is serious as a tailor
focused on his glistening brush
spreading enamel sticky as molasses

— no, stickier, like streams of
pine sap oozing from the rosin
sapper’s V cut in the scaly trunk
of longleaf pines in forests far

from here, an ocean and a gulf
away, stuck in time and memory,
that time, my memory. The time
is gone, but I am here, stricken.

The painter’s jeans are spotted
with terracotta red primer, so
too his long-sleeve work shirt,
a plaid red, white, black, blue.

His expression does not change.
Dip, brush, brush. Dip, brush. Dip
brush, brush, brush. Dip, brush
brush. No hat. Thick brushy hair

the color of the granite cliffs
over above the Clou de la Fou.
The handyman does not see me.
He was always here. I walk on.


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