A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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March 2008, vol 4 no 1

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Bruce Ross


In the Dark

We are riding in open cars of a little train taking us deeper into absolute dark. I am reminded of the ghost train, my favorite childhood amusement park ride. For stretches you are thrown into darkness, except for an occasional ghost or ghoul. Then a turning barrel with an interior of rich illuminated blue and incandescent white stars. The track curved through it and you were spinning through the cosmos. But here the stars are the Paleolithic cave art representations of France created by lamplight: shaded wooly mammoths, vibrant spotted and sculpted horses, simple hand prints, graceful etched human figures, bright squares of color. At Lascaux Cave animal figures circled the dome of the Great Hall as if constellations. Expecting it at Villars Grotto but never realizing its incredible luminosity and beauty . . .

                                                   tiny stalactites
                                                   cover a small blue horse
                                                   for so long

But we are now catapulted into twenty-first century Paris: Parisian children with star wands on All Saints Day, the busy Place de la Bastille where everyone seems to know the beggar woman, Winged Victory standing on a miniature stone boat, slow autumn clouds over the Paris roofs, golden leaves falling on the café tables, a little dog’s wet prints on a park path, the smell of fresh baguettes, an evening leaf dropping past a foreign beggar, the sound of street musicians, the Eiffel Tower in deep misty rain . . .

                                                     Paris metro
                                                     in the darkest tunnel