Oct/Nov 2003 Poetry

Two Towns in Provence

by Kristin Kovacic

Photo-Art by Tara Gilbert-Brever


Two Towns in Provence
(after M.F.K. Fisher)


You love certain villages, the cold ones,
boxes of shadow and yellow dust; you admire

their uselessness, their silence, one greasy door
open to the deserted shop-towns not asleep

but so unconscious you can walk like a citizen
through the square, like a thief in the damp

alleys, and never speak. This is the fantasy
of the tranquil man, the man who never talks

for pleasure, every word a coin. Like your father
he sits at table and lets the woman fill

the quiet she cannot bear, even a moment's
carved breathing between them. He loves her

as he loves a canopy of plane trees
when he walks; he moves in and out of her

constant language, but he loves the solitary
village of his own mind better.

It is his only secret.


Pont St. Esprit

I do not admire them so much; your villages
are like my mother, who sits in a well

of silence at the center of us, as at the center
of a square. Our words are stones falling

down her. Her own words rise up from the black
bottom, pitched like pebbles over the wall,

sometimes hitting us, and sometimes hitting
the ground around us. I heal myself in the chaos

of a market town, jostled, accosted, chicken heads
dropping at our feet-help, here, hold this,

take this for me, please. This is the fantasy
of the anxious woman. She never tires of voices;

her mother's voice, the one not vanished
is saying something like this, something stray

and necessary. It does not consider itself.
It will never say anything she truly believes.

Hold this for her.


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