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Christmas in Paris Christmas in Paris
by Dr. Lawrence Nannery
2017-12-25 11:48:38
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Christmas in Paris

I.

When mother died, she got to think about her father,
This man she never knew.

All she knew was that he had relocated in Paris.
A Paris phone book gave her his exact address.

She wrote a friendly note and send it off, but there was no response.
She tried again a few months later, but no response.

II.

She decided to take the bull by the horns, and
Flew over there for Christmas vacation.

The day before Christmas she knocked on his door direct.
The door flew open and what stood before her was an old man.

Rather distinguished looking, she thought, though
She would not have been able to recognize him on the street.

She introduced herself, calling him “daddy,” and asked to come in.
He hesitated, then stepped aside and watched with open mouth as she passed by.

They sat on easy chairs facing one another.
They introduced themselves.

She was a lawyer and he was a writer for expatriate magazines.
She looked a lot like her mother, he said. She couldn’t think of a response.

She was afraid to mention the letters. She just said that mom had died
And she always wanted to have a relationship with him.

III.

It was Christmas Eve, and so he offered to take her to a restaurant,
Saying that he knew them all by now, after 20 years.

And it was true. It was an inexpensive, interesting place
And everyone there seemed to know him.

He asked her only questions about her current life, but not her growing up.
To whatever she said he looked surprised.

When she asked him questions about his life his answers were vague.
He did not look her in the eye.

Had he ever remarried? No, of course not. Odd! Why of course not?
Odd, since he was a good-looking man and had a good education.

After dinner he walked her back to her hotel.
He was witty and self-depreciating, very attractive she thought.

IV.

nan01_400_02The magic of it thrilled her through and through!
Christmas in Paris! Something she’d always dreamed of!

Overnight snow had fallen, softening and ennobling
All those earthtone buildings looking like candy.

Father took her first to the cathedral for Christmas mass.
Though neither was religious, the ceremony was so beautiful there was a hush.

He took he to a bistro for brunch,
And there, again, everyone seemed to know him, in English and in French.

But he did not introduce her all around, and he dropped his eyes
Whenever she asked him too direct a question.

The walking tour lasted for hours.
That was how he made his living when he first moved over here.

He gave little set of speeches at every stop. There was an interesting story connected
With every one. But they had a rehearsed quality, something he was hiding behind.

She almost gushed like a schoolgirl to see him in his element:
He was quite informative, quite intelligent and entertaining.

This beautiful city, so charming – charming, charming, charming, charming.
And even her father was charming.

Then dinner at a very nice restaurant, where he showed himself quite the gourmand.
Not a poor man, then. She began to grow proud.

But also miffed, that she had missed this all these years,
When it could have been like this every year.
Why hadn’t he contacted her?

Over desert she was prattling on about something or other when suddenly
She noticed tears dripping onto the table.

She shouted, “Daddy!” and he started, seeming afraid.
He was unconscious of his tears.

“But why? Daddy?”
“Why what?”
“Why the tears?”
“I have no idea.” Then, pensively, “I suppose they must be for all that was lost.”
“What was lost?”
He stared down at his lap, the table, his hands, the floor.
Words came inaudibly: “my life … I guess…”

He could not continue.
He went to the men’s room to wash up,
And when he returned he still could not speak.
She turned to her hotel alone, chilled.

V.

Next morning she was recovered. She resolved to believe
That she had found a new element of life here in the last two days.

He did not answer the phone. She went to his building and rang upstairs.
There was no answer. She fetched the concierge.

The apartment door was forced open, but nothing revealed itself
Except the running water in the bathroom.

And there was the dead man, his veins opened up,
His head propped up by the rim of the tub as though he was asleep.

His body and blood lay still and silent in the red water,
Relief on his visage.
This was a closing chapter that never had opened,
Her father dead, consequent dread,
His aloneness stabbing her as far as she could feel.

A note was tacked onto the door. It read:
“After all these years of hiding myself away in fear and frustration
My past has returned to haunt me. I have taken my oblivion pills.
I cannot bear it; the old wounds reopening.
I refuse to say more. Everyone can go to hell!”

VI.

What happened next she has no idea.
How she got back to America she still has no idea.
She now sees her perfect isolation, but
The puzzle and her puzzlement remain.
She accepts that she should never have embarked upon his expedition,
But what else she should have done,
Knowing what she knew, and not knowing what she did not,
She does not know.

  *************************************************************************

Check Dr. Lawrence Nannery's Poetry Collection:
"Translations from the Cinema"
You can download them for FREE HERE!
 
 life_74_400
 


      
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