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

Entries in Jean-Raphaƫl Gilis www.jrgilis.com (1)

Sunday
Sep032017

Moment of Ecstasy

iPhone photo by Kaaren Kitchell

 

 

I left Shakespeare and Company with two books I’d ordered, Louis Zukovsky’s epic poem, “A,” and Robert Ward’s novel about the Sixties, “Shedding Skin.”

Should I go back to my studio now to write, or to a café? Something tugged on me in the direction of the latter.

I took the most beautiful route, along the south side of Notre Dame. The gargoyles glared down; I’ve heard they need repairing. The proportions of the trees against river and sky was… perfect.

In the park named for a pope, I looked up to see a sky smoky with clouds and the waxing gibbous moon, which seemed to be directly above our apartment to the south.

On the Pont St.-Louis, I remembered a stanza of a poem I’d written about my mother’s visit to Paris:

Here, the Pont Saint-Louis where

police tortured a gypsy for a crime,

so her mother cursed the bridge—

it crumbled seven times.


And then I spotted swans. Six swans, with seventeen ducks nearby. I hadn’t seen swans on the Seine in a while.

All I wanted at the café was a hot chocolate. Maybe the waitress disapproved—not much of an order—since she promptly forgot it. I reminded her, sipped and read and wrote, and left the café at 9:30 back across the Pont St.-Louis.

There in the middle of the bridge was a man singing, in front of him a telescope with a sign, “Regardez Les Cratères de la Lune.” 

How much? I asked.

Whatever you want to donate, he said.

He aimed the telescope; I leaned down. The image was so close I felt as if I could leap onto the moon. The craters on the right side were more pronounced and numerous than on the left.

That’s because the line between day and night is strongest on the right side, he said.

Of course! The moon has her days and nights, just as we do, depending on where the sun is shining his light on her.

Two French men came dashing up and brushed cheeks with the man offering the moon.

They introduced themselves. Nicolas and Charlie, and the moon man was Jean-Raphael.

Voyez-vous une femme chantant à pleine voix, ou un lapin dans la lune? I asked.

Un lapin! they said.

Naturally, rabbits being one of Aphrodite’s creatures, like Paris herself and the French. 

You can see Saturn and her rings, too, said Jean-Raphael.

I peered into the telescope. Nothing. Again. Nothing. And then, there it was, tiny, ringed, a bright dot just to the right of the moon.

I looked up and had that sense of standing in eternity: three men and I paying homage to the Moon and Saturn from the Pont St.-Louis with the Seine and swans below on one of the last warm nights of summer in Paris: a moment of ecstasy!