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April 2013, vol 9, no 1

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Steven Carter

Brueghel’s Icarus

The world is oval-shaped under a lemon-yellow rind of sky. Sprouting wings, he leaps off the Eiffel Tower, only to bump his head against a brick wall of curved space, returning him to Point A—and a wan epiphany:

Travel, v. To learn to stay put by going and coming the long way around in an effort to put distance between you and your shortcomings.

—Or no (he turns in his sleep): the incandescent white moon singes his wings, plummeting him into a dark green sea replete with 19th-century sailing ships. As in the Brueghel painting, they go on doing what they do, oblivious to a pair of legs disappearing beneath the waves.

He does like to walk (banishing from his thoughts the notion of “traveling about the city”!). Today’s waking hours find him in the beautiful Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris’ largest. Located on the exquisitely named Rue de Repos, its luminaries include Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Delacroix, Jim Morrison, and, most famously, Heloise and Abelard, whose tomb—to his mind anyway—rivals that of Napoleon in beauty and elegance. The area surrounding the little temple is always strewn with white and red chrysanthemums tossed over the white stone fence—900 years after the lovers walked the moonlit vineyards of a fledgling Paris.

As he pauses in a patch of lush grass before Jim Morrison’s grave, he thinks again of the poor lost boy who traveled too high, the object of a few moments of attention before—like the ships—visitors to the Musée des beaux-arts pass on.

on soft grass
softness of dandelions—
heart’s needle