ZINC’S DULL REFLECTION
Reflecting in the dull, scratched reflection of a zinc counter, too many empty pastis glasses and I look towards the mirror and the sepia light and the prostitute sipping her espresso at the bar, her mouth like a red angry gash, and in the mirror behind her, I see her back, black lace dress, net stockings and then her front reflected from the opposite mirror and then a disappearing corridor of back front back front flipping back and forth into infinity.
And I think to myself: behind me was my continuing education, a phd in philosophy, a professorship, a book, a wife, a life; in front of me was an unknown Paris that had seduced me upon the first whiff of her urine scented perfume. And real prostitutes! Here in real life! and that guy over there wearing the basque, actually is a starving painter! And I am actually Henry Miller and this is my circus of sex and discovery and absinthe and old bar maids with concentration camp tattoos and butchers drinking cafe calvados at 4 in the morning after dropping off their bloody carcasses, half the blood blotting their aprons like they were serial killers meeting for a social.
All that looking from one end of the endless bar to the other.
And then back again.
From my hindsight glance at my past, how I got here and the anxious certain dread that I at some point, have made a lasting, life long mistake!
And then I gaze in the direction of your Paris street, I so badly need to hurry up to catch what’s around the corner. I used to walk so fast in Paris, I was literally running and no one ever gave me a second glance. In Paris there is always some place to go. But it’s not the future that’s around the corner, it’s more of this, this past, these aspirations, this humble beginning, this arrogant courage, this reckless abandon and the picking up of the consequential pieces and most of all this desire to go on, to keep going to escape from the shadow that is following me. It would have caught up with me sooner and swallowed me whole with the phd, the wife and the life. Instead it’s stopped chasing me; maybe because I’ve slowed, it’s slowed its pace to a stroll.
It knows that I know now where we are heading.
Where we’ve been going all along.
My shadow’s not chasing me anymore,
it’s just casually following out of vague curiosity.