"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."  --William Shakespeare

Entries in cafes (20)


Unexpected Pleasures




You can walk out into the world thinking you know what pleasures await you, and have no idea of the treasure in store.

I knew the dinner would be excellent.

I knew that editing a story would be satisfying.

But I'm startled by the acute pleasure of being out in the cold sharp night air after several weeks mostly indoors with the flu. The world is so… solid, so real! Feathers! Flowers! Carytids! The moon! 

The pleasure of crossing a narrow street at the crosswalk, three men talking and blocking my path, the one on the bicycle looking up with great sweetness, "Oh, pardon!" and backing up his bike to let me pass.


The sweetness of men! It moves me even more than their strength. That Celtic douceur that comes from centuries of the troubadour tradition of courtesy (and perhaps from centuries of its opposite, savage wars on one's own soil).

The pleasure of remembering that I have several books to pick up at Shakespeare and Company. I'm carrying a book bag with my laptop and printed-out stories.  Do I want the extra weight? Sure. Better than swinging by too late after they've closed.



I detour, pick up the books. The bookseller with whom I'd been exchanging messages says, "Oh, it's you. I know your face, but didn't know your name."

"Same with me. You have the slightest accent. What is it?"

"I'm French."

"But your English is perfect."

"I lived in the States for a while."

Out into the blue-black cold. The face of Notre Dame across the river makes me think of Rosamond Larmour Loomis. The cathedral reminds me of those four years of boarding school, of memorizing hymns, the strict regimen of classes, study hall, every hour mapped out.



Rosamond was the headmistress of the school. She died last week at the age of 102, several weeks after her boyfriend Henry.

I remember two conversations with her, one when I was 14, and had been called into her office with Miss Moran, the sadistic assistant headmistress. I’ve already mentioned this once on Paris Play, but it made a deep impression on me, hinted at my future. Miss Larmour sternly addressed a most unfortunate incident involving naked girls in high heels and pearls stampeding down the dorm singing an aria from La Traviata. She said, "We thought you were a leader when you arrived, but this is not what we had in mind."



And later at a school reunion, she was no longer the strict head of the school, but relaxed, warm, ageless. We discovered that we'd both been married for the first time later in life, at the same age, though years apart.

Rosamond died the way I would like to die, quickly, quickly, well past the age of 100, with my beloved and friends nearby. I imagine her on her journey, sailing into the mystery.

It is crowded at my writing café. But maybe, maybe that man is not sitting at my table.

The waiter asks.

No, he's just spread out his packages there from the adjacent table where he's talking with a woman. He graciously makes room for me.



I order salmon and scalloped potatoes, the way my mother used to make them.

I open my new James Salter novel, Light Years, and begin to read. Oh. my. god. Oh! Oh! This is music. I cannot help it, I begin to annotate the page with a pencil, making scansion marks above the words as if the lines were a prose poem.

The rhythm of his sentences, the sculptural quality. The weather, the sensory richness.

I know these characters, their lives rich with art, books, friendship, family, storytelling, animals, weather, beauty. (And later, carelessness, sad choices.)

The dinner arrives. The waiter says, “If you finish that book tonight, I’ll give you a free dessert.”

The couple next to me laugh. It's a joke Parisian waiters make only when it’s clear that you’ve just started a book.

The meal is fantastic.



The man at the next table gets up to use the bathroom. The woman strikes up a conversation with me. She lives for literature. She lives in a small town near Brittany. 

The man returns. He runs a poetry and fiction reading series near us in Paris.

She invites Richard and me to visit her in her small village. She offers to drive us around.

He invites us to come to his poetry series next weekend.

They have just met in the Jardin du Luxembourg.  We all exchange cards.

I am flooded with richness.

When they leave I order a glass of cider. The mild alcohol content won't interfere with my editing.

Oh yes it does. I'd forgotten the lingering effect of the flu, am instantly tipsy. Now, how to balance that out? A coffee would keep me up all night. But a hot chocolate wouldn't. That delicate balancing act we do with food, drink and energy.

The hot chocolate warms and awakens me. I edit the story with the music of Salter's sentences ringing in my ears.





Finding Your Café

Sometimes you have too many threads in your mind, and you wonder how they’re related—if they’re related—and how to weave them all together.

I’ve been thinking about truth-telling and love.

About friendship.

About what I want to do before I die.

About fiction and non-fiction.

About writing rooms and writing in cafés.

About France and America. Republicans and Democrats.

About health rituals.

About public art and public spaces.




I finished a first draft of a short story this week. When I was five years old, I wanted to write a book of stories when I grew up that my sister, Jane, would illustrate. I’ve always loved the dance between story and visual images. 

Richard and I are collaborating now on Paris Play the way I envisioned doing as a child. Stories and photos about daily life in Paris are one approach. Fictional stories about characters are another.



Having a chambre de bonne has helped me go down into depth in writing fiction. And then today, after the uneasiness of revealing the story's weird characters, the joy of Richard’s enthusiastic response and his edits.

For depth, for listening closely to the muse, I find that solitude is best. But for later drafts, the buzz of a café can spark new word associations and sensory details.



I set out to try once more to write—no, to edit—in a café, taking my new lightweight MacBook Air.



I know the cafes that were second homes to Sartre and Beauvoir; where Hemingway wrote; where Hart Crane met his publisher, Harry Crosby; where Marguerite Duras met other writers; where Samuel Beckett mused; where the Surrealists and Dadaists gathered; where Baudelaire and Rimbaud drank; where James Joyce quoted passages from the Bible; where Scotty Fitzgerald got deathly pale on champagne; where Djuna Barnes passed around her work; where Richard Wright entertained Martin Luther King, Jr.; where Gabriel García Márquez dined; where Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell and Anais Nin fought; where Oscar Wilde quipped; where Proust sipped beer. I’ll take you on a tour of these places if you gather a small group and give me a little notice.



But I wanted a café of my own. Why should I follow in anyone else’s footsteps? Except maybe Chekhov’s, but he didn’t write in Paris. The kind of story that Chekhov wrote is my model. All he really cared about was character. Not scenery (though at his best in “The Lady with the Dog,” his descriptions of the countryside near Yalta in the summer and Moscow in the winter, are heart-stoppingly lovely); not gymnastic language (his simple language gives you all you need to know); not plot (though his stories reveal action emerging from character). X-ray vision about character—that was Chekhov’s genius.

I walked past the Montaigne statue across from the Sorbonne, and rubbed his buckled golden shoe for luck. He smiled down at me with that ironic, good-humored smile.



I had two cafés in mind to try tonight. In passing one, I noticed that there was a spacious area in one corner beckoning me to sit. No one too close. Books behind the red banquette. An open air view onto the sidewalk and a crossroads (because all the artists’ and writers’ favorite cafés are near Métro stations and at carrefours). And I already knew that the waiters there struck just the right balance between being attentive and leaving you alone.



I settled in and sure enough, the waiter quickly brought me gazpacho and toast with olive tapenade, and cider with the tiniest bit of alcohol.

At the nearest table, three British men, filmmakers, apparently, were talking about film and the dementia of one of their parents. They were intensely engaged in conversation, listening as much as they talked about art and life, and hallelujah!, in modulated voices. Perfect.



For two hours I edited the story, looking up occasionally at the sidewalk theater. People sat at small tables chatting, drinking and eating. The art of conversation is still alive in Paris.

I’d found my writing café. The only thing more that was needed to make this a perfect day: a film with Richard at home. Maybe we’d watch Monsieur Hire, based on a Georges Simenon mystery, as our French lesson before we went to sleep.    

As for truth and love, friendship and death… all those other subjects? We can talk about those later.






Chocolate Soup


Snow is predicted for tomorrow, but tonight it’s just cold. Nonetheless we go out to meet our friend in layers, and I’m glad to be wearing my new lined wool mittens from Le Vieux Campeur.

It’s a straight shot to her apartment on Blvd. Saint-Germain. We pass the UGC theater and muse upon which restaurant we’ll go to for Valentine’s Day, which film we’ll see. How about The Descendants, in honor of our friend Kimo, who grew up in Hawaii, and whose birthday was yesterday? We’ve just discovered that each of our closest friends from college age was born on the same day. Kimo and Polly.

We hold hands as we walk and talk. Richard is in such good spirits lately, it makes me happy too.



He stops suddenly and crouches. A python on the sidewalk! Or rather, a python-nosed shoe, scuffed, muddy, abandoned. It’s the shoe of a fashionable Parisian. As Richard clicks away, I ponder how it was lost. In this weather, surely you would notice the loss of a shoe? Unless you were drunk. Or lately homeless.

Farther on, we come to the statue of Diderot. On one side of the base I spot a stenciled Cupid, holding a machine gun, a red heart over his head. Richard photographs that too.

I tell him of an idea for Paris Play: some of us are paired up this Valentine’s Day, some are not, but almost all of us have been in love at one time or another. I’d like to hear others’ stories of how they fell in love with their current love or one from the past.

He suggests we approach it through the senses. What was the first sense that drew you to the beloved? Like your poem, he says.



Sight, sound, smell, touch, taste. 150 words. Or an image. Or a piece of music. Or a meal.

We meet our friend at her apartment and walk to a Japanese-French restaurant on rue du Dragon. She was born in the Year of the Dragon, she says.

“So it will be a good year for you.”

We know what we want: she and I will have salmon, he will have beef bourguignon.

This waiter is so charming! A quick slender young Frenchman, his spirit so friendly and clear. I ask if I can have scalloped potatoes instead of carrots.



Our friend hasn’t heard this American term. “Scallops—Coquilles St. Jacques?” she asks.

No, scalloped, and I motion to show the waiter that I mean sliced potatoesOhPommes de terre grillées, he says.

Our friend sits with her back to the window, facing the two of us. We talk about the past week’s problems, as well as the usual bliss. Water is dripping from her petit coin into the apartment below. Her heat went out. The count who lives in her building came to fix the heater. This just never happens in L.A., counts who double as plumbers.

For a solid week after we posted “Trouble in Paradise” about our noisy neighbor, she was quiet. Quiet at night, quiet in the morning, quiet all day long. We nearly wept with relief. We attributed it to Group Mind acting on her psyche. Really. What else could it have been but the good wishes of friends and family zipping through holes in space and time and persuading her towards neighborly peace. We turned off our fan at night, since we no longer needed the white noise.



But a week later she started up again.



We talk about Paris apartments. Our friend was of the same mind as her friend, Jean-Paul Sartre: best to own a minimum of possessions, including property. But then her mother died and another friend persuaded her to use her inheritance to buy an apartment, and oh, how glad she is that she did.

I had the same attitude, I say, until I drove into Santa Fe the first time. Driving from the Albuquerque airport over the last rise, and seeing the city like a bowl of jewels in the valley below, I knew I would put down roots there, and buy a place, and I did.

We talk about a dinner that our friend had with the film director, Michelangelo Antonioni, and the actress, Monica Vitti, in the old part of Nice. Antonioni spoke some French, but was not familiar with a certain Niçois dish called amourettes. What was it? he asked our friend.

“Bull’s balls,” she said.


The testicles of a bull. Antonioni balked. “Michele, why don’t you order that,” Monica said. “It’d be good for you.”

“What?!” I say. “I can’t think of anything worse you could say to a man. Were they a couple at the time?”

“Yes,” she says.



It’s hard for women to get roles past a certain age. More so if they are sex symbols than character actresses. Think of Meryl Streep. She’s still going strong.

Anyway, that’s changing now that women are becoming directors and producers and screenwriters.

Richard tells of interviewing several female directors, including Gillian Armstrong.

We don’t eat sugar. Sugar isn’t good for you. But we honor Apollo, and the words engraved in his temple at Delphi, μηδέν άγαν (mēdén ágan = "nothing in excess"). Not too much of anything, including purity.



So let’s see if there’s something on the dessert menu the three of us can split. How about this: Chocolat dans tous ses états. Chocolate in all its states.

Now that is a great title for a dessert. And it includes a little cake, a mousse, ice cream and …yuk! soup?

No, let’s choose something else. What an idea: chocolate soup.

But we are metal returning to magnet. Chocolat dans tous ses états.

Richard, being the consummate gentleman that he is, offers to protect the two women from the unfortunately named chocolate soup, and handle that problem all by himself.

This could be an alchemical revelation: chocolate as water, air, earth and fire! Oui, celui-ci, avec trois cuillères.



And it arrives on a square white plate, four delicate offerings amidst chocolate powdered right on the plate: un petit gâteau, mousse, crème glacée, et la soupe.

It’s so aesthetic, so Japanese, so lovely we almost can’t dig in. For a few seconds. There are perhaps two bites of each for each of us.

But a furious question consumes us: soup is the wrong word for this liquid chocolate. We must help the restaurant to rename it. Three writers go to town. Syrup, Liquide. Tasse. Nectar. Boisson. Soupcon. A waterfall. A pour. Aztec. Maya. I want to name it Ambrosia.

The waiter approaches. We tell him our conclusion: the word soup has to go. “How about ambrosia?” I ask.

He smiles agreeably.

When he leaves, our friend says, “You don’t think he understood the word ambrosia, do you?”

“He seemed to,” I said. “Why not?”



“No. No, when I studied at the Sorbonne, I thought everyone was familiar with the Surrealists and French literature and European history. But most of the students weren’t. And it’s gotten worse since. Nobody knows anything any more.”

We go back to dreaming up a better word than soup, all agreeing on the felicitous title, Chocolat dans tous ses états.

The waiter returns with the check. “What is the French word for ambrosia?” I ask.

He looks puzzled.

I try to Frenchify it. Ambroisie?

He doesn’t know the word.

Oh dear, she’s right.

Across the street a great green door opens in the middle. A French car slides in through the opening and disappears. The door swings shut. “Look!” I exclaim.

“This is the first time I’ve ever seen it open for a car,” she says. “When they were renovating the building, homeless families camped out in the courtyard. I’d bring them food. The count brought everyone hot coffee each morning.”



A circle of lights is blinking to one side of the doors. I glance up. Men and women pass by the window in their Russian hats. Dots and dashes of white Morse code are being sent from heaven to earth. Or maybe it’s ambrosia. “It almost looks like snow,” I say.

The huge green doors open, and the car departs. We all turn to look. And see the first snow of the night falling.



      *     *     *     *

Now we want your stories. Remembering how you met a current or past love, what was the first sense that drew you to the beloved?  Sight, sound, smell, touch, taste? 150 words or less. Or an image with a 150-word caption. Or a short piece of music. Or a meal. Or a food doodle.

Get your contributions in by e-mail <textfile@mac.com> to us by 6 p.m. Paris time on Saturday, February 19. We’ll publish the best contributions as a Paris Play post next Tuesday, February 21.

We're waiting, senses alert.






Surrealist Café Two: La Vie Avec Les Animaux

On today's menu, the results of our second Surrealist Café community collage. Readers will recall that we asked you to walk into a cafe (or a spot that animals frequent) precisely at 1 p.m. on Saturday, October 29, and record, in whatever medium you chose (poetry, prose, drawing, photography, etc.), your interchange with an animal. We suspect most of you didn't follow the rules about time and space, but nonetheless, these contributors seized the time, and amazed us with their devotion to les animaux. All contributions are (c) 2011 by their individual creators.


       *     *     *     *  

Suki Kitchell Edwards, passing through New Orleans, USA:


       *     *     *     *

Scott MacFarlane, near LaConner, WA, USA:

“Bear Box”

Can replica serve as artifact?  The Northwest Indian bentwood box––with stylized bear design wrapped around four sides––hides in the clutter beside the register at the Rexville Grocery.  Those pens sticking out the top were not native but reinforce how functionality was a trait of this rich art form.

Down the road from the Swinomish tribal casino, this is the prehistoric land of the Northwest Coast Indian.  The red-and-black design with tertiary ovoids portrays a bear.  The little ears differentiate it from an Orca design that would display stylized flukes. 

A half-dozen miles from here as raven flies, killer whales swim.  However, this totemized design––Tlingit perhaps––derives not from here, but from the tribal turf we now call Southeast Alaska.  This design style was more formalized than local Salish art.

When I entered the Rexville, three aging hippies sitting at the counter glanced up and resumed talking.  The pencil holder had caught my eye.  Thirty-three years earlier at the Burke Museum on the UW campus, I had helped touch up these boxes, really a diminutive replica of a native bentwood artifact.  Clear cedar had been silk-screened, notched, bent and assembled just down the hall from Bill Holm’s office in the basement.  Holm was the non-native who devoted years codifying the principles behind Northwest Coastal Indian Art.  He wrote the book. 

          *     *     *     *


Stuart Balcomb, Venice, CA, USA: 



The vet allowed me to hold her
during the injection.
She was deaf, blind, very much in pain.
I know she could sense my heart beating,
her nose against my chest
as her last few pulses faded into memory.
Wife and child couldn't bear to attend,
so I did the deed,
then carried the lifeless cargo back home
where I laid her to rest, deep in the yard,
and toasted her eternal gifts
with a teary glass of Beaujolais Nouveau.


        *     *     *     *

Joanne Warfield, "Birds, Flights of Fantasy," Venice, CA, USA:  


     *     *     *     *

Jennifer Genest, Long Beach, CA, USA:

The Foal
You were part of an outline when I was trying to understand something called, “character need.” Back then, your birth was merely a point in the plot, the thing all the characters moved toward.
I was taught that an animal couldn’t carry a story—not as a character. But you’ve been underneath this one, gestating, being my little ticking clock. I admit it, you were used; the situation of your impending birth provided a way for characters to do and feel all sorts of things. Things, maybe, that horses don’t care anything about.
You arrive at last on page 268, dark and wet in the straw, and I am overwhelmed with affection for you. But once again it is a human character that takes the stage, trying to breathe life into your still, newborn body. 
And here I am, greedy in this tender moment, using the opportunity to move the story forward, trying to decide whether you will stand to nurse or never stand at all, and what that means for each human involved, and I am hopelessly stuck, at least for now, in mourning every possibility, in honoring you, in trying to pull off a story that only unfolds when I feel all of this at once.


     *     *     *     *

Walt Calahan, Westminster, Maryland, USA:


       *     *     *     *  

Bruce Moody, Crockett, CA, USA:

     Les Animaux

 (for Amanda Sidonie Moody on her birthday)


There are always animals about.

Here, there, up, down,

always about. Wild.



Butterflies mating in front of everybody.

The squirrel taking over the roof.

The bird you failed to notice

or identify if you did

overreaching all expectations in the sky.


Consider their quiet absolute presence

like a fur you wear and have become accustomed to.


Consider the tortoiseshell cat next door

and the grey one.

and the other.


They are as impervious to us

as we to them.

We live in concourse with them

as we make our ways

cooperatively like folks on crowded streets


Neighbors we never notice.

Neither talking to one another nor to you.


They are indifferent to us as a species

to our names and souls,

dismissive of our wishes,

as we of theirs.


But they abound,

they abound all around us.

In the walls.

Underground as worms.

In the fields as unseen moles.


Ambitious for and seeking, ever seeking,

as we,



       *     *     *     *

Amy Waddell, Santa Monica, CA, USA:


Walk Lobster

Gérard de Nerval died on January 26, 1855 at the age of 46. That's not to say he did not enjoy a full life. A man who befriends a lobster, names that lobster and has the patience to walk said lobster every day has reaped life's riches in my book. Every day Thibault the lobster and Gérard the poet took air, as it were, in the gardens of Palais Royal in Paris. Sometimes their walks found them skirting the edges of the Seine. It is not clear if the blue silk ribbon that extended from Thibault's craw to Gérard's was necessary, or whether lobster or man determined the course of the walks. It is only sure that man and lobster walked together, sans pincer or boiling water-induced screams, for some years in old Paris.

"I have a liking for lobsters. They are peaceful, serious creatures. They know the secrets of the sea, they don't bark, and they don't gnaw upon one's monadic privacy like dogs do." 

--Gérard de Nerval.



       *     *     *     *

Edith Sorel, "Day of the Iguana," Key Largo, Florida, USA:



       *     *     *     *

Richard Beban, Aquarium Tropical de la Porte Dorée, Paris, France:




The Magic Thread

I once walked on the beach at Playa del Rey with the poet, Jack Gilbert. He talked about the difference between poetry and prose. Poetry has an element of magic, he said.

The world is a magical place. You don’t need the Surrealists to tell you that, though we do love works of art like Andre Breton’s Nadja that dramatize this web of connections beneath the surface of reality.

This magical synchronicity seems to happen more with certain people than others. Listen to what happened when Willis and Sarah came to Paris a few months ago this summer:



For you to fully grok these coincidences, I have to first introduce you to the dramatis personae—six people, many, but not all, of whom already knew each other. They are:

Willis, poet and translator.

Sarah, Willis' wife, expert on, and author of, books on Chinese furniture, architecture and art.

John: food writer and cartoonist.

Varda: psychologist.

And Richard and I, poetic and mythical string surrealists.



Six people who have all spent varying amounts of time in Paris:

Willis first came to Paris in 1948 for a year at the Sorbonne. He knew The Father of Dada, Tristan Tzara. Willis wrote poems then, and writes poems now—some forty or so this Paris trip, during the couple of months he and Sarah spent in July and August.

Richard and I have been coming to Paris individually for years, and together since our honeymoon in 1997, and now live here.

John was in Paris for two months this summer, as he was last summer, when we introduced him to Varda, who’s lived here since the ‘90s.

(The thread goes back further, but more on that later.)

Richard and I were to meet Willis and Sarah for café at Les Deux Magots. When we arrived, there were no tables for four outside, so we settled in at two tables in the glassed-in section between the sidewalk café and the interior, with a view of the street.

We arranged the tables so that they would have the best view, which is what you do with friends. But until they arrived, we’d sit facing out, in order to spot them.



Who should we spy but John, who happened to stroll by and sit down at a table near the entrance. This spot has special resonance for us. It’s where we drew the picture in our Dream Book two years ago of our plan to move to Paris, back when it seemed a mirage.

Richard tapped John on the shoulder, and invited him to join us. John sat down with us (surprise! We’d never bumped into each other in Paris before.)

A few minutes later, Willis and Sarah arrived.

I’d last seen Willis at an Eco-poetry festival that Richard and I had produced at Ballona Wetlands, where Willis read his poems. Richard had seen him more recently in the Bay Area where they began their quest for abandoned shoes chronicled in an earlier post.

I hadn’t met his wife, Sarah, yet. She was shy and graceful, an Asian art historian in pearls.

Though in his 80s, Willis has the zest of a young boy. We introduced him and Sarah to John, who happens to live most of the time right near them in the Berkeley-Oakland hills.



We ordered drinks. John was only able to stay with us for fifteen minutes, he said; he was meeting our mutual friend, Varda, for dinner.

“Varda,” said Willis. “A girl named Varda broke my heart when I was 10 years old. I kissed her, and the next day she brought me an envelope, which I opened with excitement to find another envelope, and inside that was another one, like Russian nesting dolls, and finally in the center… nothing.” He mimicked being crushed. “So I knew my love was hopeless.”

We knew that Willis had lived in New York City as a child, which would have been more than seventy years ago.

“This Varda lived in NYC,” I said. I felt a thread pulling taut.



He mentioned her last name.

I had traveled in Vietnam with her, and had learned her maiden name. “It’s the same Varda!” I exclaimed.

All of our mouths fell open. What were the chances that John would walk by, stop at Les Deux Magots before dinner, join us and Willis and Sarah, mention within fifteen minutes the name of the friend with whom he was having dinner, and that she would be Willis’s first (though unrequited) love, whom he hadn’t seen in over 70 years? 70 years bridged in fifteen minutes.



John was flabbergasted.

But we were about to go out of town to a friend’s wedding. “Please, please wait for a few days to have the reunion—we’d love to be there!” we pleaded.

Later we learned that John was so excited to tell Varda the story that he turned it into a game of “This is Your Life” over dinner. At first she didn’t recognize Willis’s name, then suddenly the memory of a T-shirt that Billy wore broke through.

But in spite of John’s request, Varda couldn’t wait to have the reunion.



We were disappointed, since we had an overwhelming desire to see this magical thread that extended from us to Willis to John to Varda and back 70 years in time to another continent--a Paris play!--reach its dramatic fruition.

But we heard about it from John.

Later, musing on the thread connecting us all, I thought about its further reach.

I remembered the night in Paris that Richard and I arrived at our apartment, anticipating that the renovation would be complete, and discovered that all the walls had been painted gray-green, which gave us the feeling of being a couple of peas in a bowl of pea soup.

We had to move into a temporary apartment on rue du Bac, while our apartment was being re-painted. Now our plans to begin furnishing the place were so delayed, we couldn’t possibly finish it in the time we had.

We sprawled on two couches in the rue de Bac apartment, feeling depressed. (Oh, you poor things, stranded in the 6th arrondissement in Paris.)



Let’s call Connie, Richard suggested. And we did. We had never met her, but my friend, Carol, had been urging us to meet for several years.

Connie invited us to join her and several friends in one hour for a film and dinner. It was a Ronald Colman film, based on Oscar Wilde’s play, Lady Windermere’s Fan.

More synchronicity! We happened to live in the beach shack Colman once owned in Playa del Rey. That night, we met Connie, Susan, Diane and Varda all for the first time.

Connie was the cousin of a good friend from my years in Santa Fe. I’d met Carol one night at a restaurant where I was reading a book of poems by Denise Levertov. She greeted me, and I soon joined her poetry workshop.

The thread that connected Carol and me was poetry.

The thread that connected Willis and Richard was poetry.

And the thread that connected Richard and me to John and Connie and Varda and back to Willis and Sarah was the poetry of the universe.