August in Paris
by Billy Collins, from Ballistics, 2008
I have stopped here on the rue des Ecoles
just off the boulevard St-Germain
to look over the shoulder of a man
in a flannel shirt and a straw hat
who has set up an easel and a canvas chair
on the sidewalk in order to paint from a droll angle
a side-view of the Church of Saint Thomas Aquinas
But where are you, reader,
who have not paused in your walk
to look over my shoulder
to see what I am jotting in this notebook?
Alone in this city,
I some times wonder what you look like,
if you are wearing a flannel shirt
or a wraparound blue skirt held together by a pin.
But every time I turn around
you have fled through a crease in the air
to a quiet room where the shutters are closed
against the heat of the afternoon,
where there is only the sound of your breathing
and every so often, the turning of a page.