Sunday, September 2, 2012

Three Postcards from Paris of Ron Libbrecht

Maja Trochimczyk Reads "Three Postcards" at Bolton Hall Museum, 2012
Last October I went to Paris for a week as a guest of the Polish Institute and one of the speakers at the International Conference on Maria Szymanowska.

After coming back I saw Ron Libbrecht's watercolor from Paris and a series of ekphrastic poems was born. Hilda Weiss of Poetry LA recorded them and posted on the site and on YouTube. The poems and the inspirational paintings were also published in a monthly online journal, Quill and Parchment, vol. 100, July 2012.


~ inspired by Ron Libbrecht's watercolors and a trip to Paris

Pont Neuf, Paris by Ron Libbrecht
 1. A New View of Pont Neuf, Paris

It is not that I do not want to rest here
On this greenest of grasses
In the shadow of massive branches
Of London plane trees, platane commun,
Maple leaf planes, Platanus hispanica,
It is just that my geography is as confused
As that of the tree – Polish, Canadian
Californian – everything I see
Carries multiple shadows of things remembered
Doppelgänger of memories
Like that park with a sandbox and benches
By the Zoo in Warsaw where we ate white clouds
Of candy-floss under the poplars
Discussing the shape of spots on the neck
Of the giraffe and hippopotamus’s awful teeth

2. The Tower and the Crane

After I filled my eyes with the splendor
Of stained glass rainbows at La Sainte Chapelle
An orgy of royal fleur-de-lis
With cranes and ravens carved into the floor
Medieval creatures waiting for a sign
To spread their wings in flight

Exhausted by history
I looked for a bench not smelling of urine
Under the sky’s pure crystal
Watercolor birds from the pages of Audubon
Stopped me at a bouquiniste’s stand
Near Quai Voltaire

Should I get the crane for a blessing of long life?
Or a kingfisher? Hopkins said they “catch fire,
Dragonflies draw flame”

To each their own – I choose a poster
With the flags and balloons
Of the 1889 World Fair
They billow and float around the edifice
Of stainless steel, Eiffel's glory

I know, I know – the stone carvings
Of beaks, claws, and beady eyes
Will outlive me and my paper Tower

Paris, Watercolor by Ron Liebbrecht
3. Paris, October
On the way back
To the Institute Polonais
Not far from the twisted flames
Where Princess Diana died
In the tunnels under Pont d’Alma
I walk by a maple and a young oak
Encircled by wrought-iron fence
An oasis of gold and bronze
Among the streets, cars, metal rivers
Of the 16-eme Arrondissement

Sales are brisk at Chanel and Versace
During the Paris Fashion Week
Charcoal and diamonds are in style
The black-clad models look indifferent
Not one of them dressed
In the splendor of lilies
The richness of autumn leaves

I wonder

Sheltered by sunlight,
We find refuge from cosmic wind
And the gnashing of teeth
In the darkness outside

Paintings by Ron Libbrecht, copied by permission.
YouTube Reading by Poetry LA: Maja Trochimczyk at Bolton Hall, February 2012

Publication: Quill and Parchment, vol. 100, July 2012