we took the train from london, under the passage and the islands slid below us. we took a taxi with two strangers who got out earlier. we hauled our bags through the small town, breathless from the weight and the history. we were given a skeleton key in the shadowy corners of a shadowy lane by our hunched and softly determined madame rousseau. in the mornings she made us café au lait and hot croissants and i stumbled through my humbling french. we rented bikes and we rode through the rolling vineyards, twisting vines, old stones, the sun was hot on our backs. the miles stretched before us as the world opened its arms and the sweet air whispered to us of adventures and loneliness and things that bring a secret happiness only you can know. we bought cheese and bread and sat by a fountain that tinkled and sang so that we smiled at each other with languid ease. back in the shadows we showered, we dressed, entered the darkening air, swallowed the cool and some wine, a red joy, a burst of white laughter, we sat outside and ate buttery, creamy meat. above, the stars mustered their strength as ours diminished.
we woke with the warmth, bodies as creaky as our mattresses, and boarded another train. we sat, read, talked, mused, wound around mountains and sleeping giants, big bowls of trembling turquoise and tables of frothy, steaming green. here, between the french alps, we were small beasts (small hearts, small hands) in a big, big wild. we walked for hours, the sky arching its long back to warm itself in the heat of the day. we walked by the lake, our shoulders against a cliff of reaching stone from which hundreds of people jumped, minute after minute. soaring souls, yawning eyes, their parachutes made rainbows in the blue above. we walked by drooping poppies and dusty schools, benches and boats and bronzed breasts gleaming in the sultry summer. a blink and a flutter, our clothes come off and we dash into the waves. what freedom! what dreams! what we cannot have forever. our blanket of light water, our memories; full we walk on...to paris, and who can speak of paris without a beleaguered and trite chattering of recycled words? so i will not try.