At Lunch in Les Deux Magots
By Lorna Goodison
For John Edward
Richard Wright and James Baldwin
ate in this very celebrated Paris café
where you and I my dearly beloved
hold these sidewalk streets in the sun
and order salads of spring greens;
tart leaves tonic our wintered mouths.
Here Richard bought a meal for James:
croque madame or croque monsieur
(Gallic cheese toast with ham or without)
Jimmy ate, and later he may even have –
here or elsewhere – sipped absinthe,
one cannot imagine that he did not;
he of the gorgeous frog prince profile
Toulouse-Lautrec would have fixed
on a poster in the age of belle époque.
Wright helped Baldwin to find a room
with room to wield the pen he used
to stab up the reputation of the older man
in an age-old pagan rite that demands
the son is duty bound to slay the father.
One rough business this writing life.
But love; this is Paris in late springtime,
the right season for ripe lovers like us.
Let us drink to the passing of old gods.
The Guardian’s Poem of the week. I love how it’s dark and light at the same time.
And I hate how it heightens my desperation to visit Paris in Springtime.