Monday, April 29, 2013

THE RAVISHING, RAVAGING SPRING -- A marriage, an Interlude -- Pomegranates & Hierophants

"Honesty" - Le Marquisat, Gardes de Pontaroux

Despite what Eliot wrote, April was not the cruelest month (though it did have its challenges). 

In Paris, the streets were slippery; a Hard Rain was falling while preparations were being made for my friend's "wedding". The only Sun to be found was in the Tarot deck. And despite the Hindu belief that a "wet knot is harder to untie", or other cultural jewels like raindrops presage "fertility", the bare shoulders holding up the skimpy summery dresses were begging for sun.  And besides, my friends don't want any children, nor do they have crops planted.  But as luck would have it, the rain stopped long enough for the entourage to walk from the apartment, where they have been living in sin for so many years, to the *Mairie of the 5th Arrondissement:

Mairie 5th arr.

Catercorner from the Pantheon, the bâtiment took my breath away.  It reminded me of the White House, only with naked statues instead of flags and busts of old men. I've never actually been inside the White House so I looked it up on-line to find out what might be inside, & here's what I found from Google ANSWERS "I know it looks real big and stuff but the President has many old old stuff in there that was there years ago and centuries ago so I know its big and has lots of old stuff that was there years and centuries ago?"  I'm not kidding, that's a verbatim quote--spoken like a true patriot!

Guess Who?

I was a témoin (witness) so I got to sit in the front row next to Pauline, the French chiropractor who was the other witness. We both signed the big official book after the nuptials were completed--which only took about three minutes for two "ouis", plus 15 minutes for the **Maire's stand-up act.  While performing the ceremony, he told a few jokes (he was a real card in his cummerbund). After it was over a silver tray was passed around?! He wasn't that funny! but I still forked over 5 euros.  Despite all the gold leaf in the building, I think the economy must be really tight and the Maire is moonlighting.  Pauline told me that she had finalized her divorce in the same exact Mairie and that it took 5 minutes!  So I'd say that when it comes to unions and dissolutions the French really sparkle with an efficiency that doesn't seem to crop up often in any other queue I've been standing in since moving to France.  

French Urban Dictiionary: *Mairie - Building, **Maire - Mayor
Mallika looking adorable

Mallika, Jacques & Cummerbund

French Aunt, French Jacques, Mallika & Moi (you can't see Pauline)

It was a thrill and a privilege to be a part of it all, & every time I looked at Jacques he was grinning from ear to ear, which is not his usual demeanor.  I didn't have to consult the cards to know that they will be happy together despite the crappy weather.  

Malheureusement, all of this joie was followed by a twilight "interlude" in which I walked the cement of gloomy frigid Paris for hours on end.

1. An intervening episode, feature, or period of time: "Kerensky has a place in history, of a brief interlude between despotisms" (William Safire).

[Middle English enterlude, a dramatic entertainment, from Old French entrelude, from Medieval Latin interldium : Latin inter-, inter- + Latin ldus, play; see leid- in Indo-European roots.]  

I wandered along the Quais...a bit rootless, remembering what Emerson once said about a poet's needs:  "day and night, house and garden, a few books, a few actions."  These things did not seem out of reach, but my feet hurt & what I really needed was a chair.  I found one near Rue des Saints Pères. It was Proust's, but he wasn't using it, so I sat down for a while.

Proust's Chair

Not very comfortable I went to De Gournay's (I truly was quite interested in the Chinoiserie);  the couches were so inviting, unlike the stiff smiles of the Chinoiserie consultants.

After a noisette fortification I toddled on over to Rue Mouffetard, which is one of the first streets I walked in Paris at age 30 with my little "Paris Walks" book.  It is still distinctly Parisian--where else can you find a house like this one, gilded with sangliers, deer and pheasants??

I had been looking for an Olivier's Olive oil Emporium & remembered there was one on Rue Mouffetard, which I luckily found before my feet completely gave out.  I wanted to buy some Pomegranate vinegar for the newlyweds and other friends.  The precious pomegranate symbolizes birth and eternal life, fertility and marriage, abundance and prosperity.  How can you go wrong with a gift like that?      
 I found Oliviers and the vinegar, but got so much more than I had bargained for. 

Oliviers - Rue Mouffetard

The Hierophant at Oliviers

I met a tarot shaman behind the counter with a Mona Lisa smile, and impenetrable chatain eyes.  I felt drawn to give him the Le Pape card (the Hierophant) from my Marseille deck.  We talked about some of  the tarot symbology embedded in the facade at Notre Dame as well as the Cathedral at Amiens outside of Paris. There was recognition -- a mystic, a teacher -- we will meet again. 
North Rose Window Amiens Cathedral

The interlude seemed to be coming to an end, but I had to go back to Notre Dame to hear the new bells & to light some candles for des amies who were feeling a bit poorly.

Notre Dame "I am the Way..."
Prayer Candles Notre Dame

The new bells sounded so sweet & mellow...

The next day I did three more tarot readings: an actress and a poet, a young french student--each one unique, but some patterns emerged, signs of the times we live in,

  We keep looking in the mirror --

Time is running out...

I dug up the lines from the Polish poet Dusza's poem on the soul and how "it favors clocks with pendulums and mirrors, which keep on working even when no one is looking."

I took a photo of an "Ingres" sculpture...
Ingres Angel

and wondered if it had any relationship to the "violon d'Ingres -- an occasional pastime, an activity other than that for which one is well-known, or at which one excells," 1963, from Fr. lit. "Ingres' violin, from the story that the great painter preferred to play his violin -- badly -- for visitors instead of showing them his pictures."

    And this was the last photo I took leaving Paris:

Mother and son on Scooters

concluding once again what makes the world go around = AMOUR (and don't forget to love thyself)

Amour Tapestry - Mairie, 5h arr. Paris
0ubli de soi - selflessness                                                             bonheur - happiness

Eternal Life

A Few Words on the Soul

We have a soul at times.
No one’s got it non-stop,
for keeps.

Day after day,
year after year
may pass without it.

it will settle for awhile
only in childhood’s fears and raptures.
Sometimes only in astonishment
that we are old.

It rarely lends a hand
in uphill tasks,
like moving furniture,
or lifting luggage,
or going miles in shoes that pinch.

It usually steps out
whenever meat needs chopping
or forms have to be filled.

For every thousand conversations
it participates in one,
if even that,
since it prefers silence.

Just when our body goes from ache to pain,
it slips off-duty.

It’s picky:
it doesn’t like seeing us in crowds,
our hustling for a dubious advantage
and creaky machinations make it sick.

Joy and sorrow
aren’t two different feelings for it.
It attends us
only when the two are joined.

We can count on it
when we’re sure of nothing
and curious about everything.

Among the material objects
it favors clocks with pendulums
and mirrors, which keep on working
even when no one is looking.

It won’t say where it comes from
or when it’s taking off again,
though it’s clearly expecting such questions.

We need it
but apparently
it needs us
for some reason too.

translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh


Joyeux Anniversaire, Lisa, my Angel.

In Memoriam Mallika Henry 1951 - 2013 - missing your earthly presence. Remembering the day I signed the book witnessing your marriage to Jacques Loup, April, 2013 - the eternal lovers, you loved wolves and you married one.

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