by Barbara Crooker

after “La Promenade des Anglais à Nice,”  Raoul Dufy

The row of palm trees curved along the Baie des Anges
like a strand of beads on the long white neck
of a beautiful woman, and the blue Mediterranean
filled the windows of our small hotel.  At night,
the waves rattled the stones like someone washing
chain mail, or a woman searching

for something she’d lost.
Blue, blue, everywhere blue—Maritime Alpes
off in the distance, paint on this table, trim
on the walls.  At the market in the vielle ville,
blue shellfish, crabs and mussels displayed
like needlepoint, and sea holly and lavender
in buckets in the flower stalls.

We had never been
so far from home, without our daughters
and damaged son.  Blue, blue, missing
their voices.  But not-blue, this new freedom,
like slipping into a dress of silk sky, believing
I could speak another language, wear perfume
behind my ears, spend the days wandering
museums, streets with flower boxes
on every window, cobblestoned alleys,

then nights with you in restaurants
with gilt-backed chairs, damask napkins, ruby wines.
The world of travel had licked its multicolored stamps,
pasted them all over my skin.


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