Slide Night…Dumped in Paris.

Wafting.

Dreaming.

Absent friends.

Screaming.

Waves that thrash.

Skies that roar.

Your corpse still dangling

at my door.

 

Fingers swing,

dangle,

drop.

Hard-hearing hands…

tick-tock,

tick-tock.

 

Illusions,

screens,

all my dreams…

crack and drop.

Drop with each

tick-tock, tick-tock.

Plip-plop, plip-plop,

Dangle.

Drop.

 

The bell has finally tolled.

Our love is dead.

There’s nothing’s left.

Even the vultures have gone.

 

Alone,

lights pirouette

across the Seine.

It’s murky depths

absorb my pain

‘til I am stone.

My heart is numb.

 

Soon,

swooping gargoyles

kiss my lips.

Hold me tight.

Sing me off to sleep.

Mon ami,

I’m no longer afraid

of the dark!

 

Yet, tick-tock time

is moving on.

My train’s just left

Gare de l’est.

Au revoir, mon ami!

You’re now nothing to me,

but a postcard from Paris.

 

Yet, one day,

I know I’ll be

flicking through

the touched up slides of memory…

Le Tour Eiefel,

Le Musée du Louvre,

les Jardins de Luxembourg,

Cafe de Buci…

 

Moi?

Non,

je ne regrette rien.

Rowena Curtin 24/7/1992 and 6/12/2016.


scan10538

My feet in the Luxembourg Gardens, Paris, 1992.

Twenty four years ago, I wrote this original version of this poem sitting beside the River Seine near Pont Neuf sometime after midnight. I was completely alone, aside from a couple of Africans across the river listening to their ghetto blaster and dancing. If I could write a letter to this 23 year old self, I’d be telling her to get her butt back to the hotel. That no one is worth dying for. Nothing is. Tomorrow is another day and the sun will keep on rising, even if you choose to ignore it.

Paris is called the “City of Lights”, the “City of Love”. However, where there is light, there is darkness. Where there is love, there is also heartbreak, rejection and terrible anguish. Surely, we’ve all been there, even if it wasn’t in Paris.

In many ways, this is a fictional poem. I didn’t actually have a romance in Paris and wasn’t actually dumped in Paris either. However, the heartbreak was real and that is what I lived with in Paris.

I don’t know whether some of the greatest heart ache is caused my semi-requited love. Or, when that precarious balance between friendship and lover goes out of whack and feelings go haywire.

For better or worse, the usual “dance” intensifies when you travel.

In 1992, I spent much of the year theoretically backpacking through Europe, although I spent 6 weeks in Paris and lived in Heidelberg much of the time. Be in the one place, provided the opportunity to get to know people and naturally, certain people better than others.

I met an older guy at Church and we never even touched each other romantically. Yet, the fallout for me was catastrophic. I wonder if it’s easier to move on when such relationships run their course, rather than getting chopped off before they even start.

So, rather than a physical relationship, we ended up with an emotional, mental connection and added to that the vulnerability of travel and being on the other side of the world (I come from Sydney, Australia), the fallout was horrific. I really do remember walking round Paris with no idea where I was in an absolute wiped out daze.

Twenty-four years later, I can be quite philosophical about all of this. Married with children,  two dogs and we’ve been living in the same house for 15 years, I am well and truly loved and grounded, giving me the ability to go back and really ramp up the horror in the original poem. I couldn’t resist adding those dreaded gargoyles, which you see poised on the roof top of Notre Dame. They’re a horror movie in their own right!

What’s your view on flirting with the dark side in your writing? I’m a pretty upbeat person most of the time but there’s a part of me, which really thrives on it. It’s also a great form of catharsis. Letting the pain out in a more constructive way than so many of the alternatives.

After all of this, I need a good, strong cup of tea!

xx Rowena

PS After returning to Sydney, I stumbled across a great band ironically called: Paris Dumper with lead singer Dominic Halpin. Here’s a link: https://dominichalpin.bandcamp.com/album/paris-dumper

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21 thoughts on “Slide Night…Dumped in Paris.

  1. Mabel Kwong

    “I wonder if it’s easier to move on when such relationships run their course, rather than getting chopped off before they even start.” Such a profound thought. I’ve been there both times, and I’d rather have the first one than the second one – purely because I don’t like wondering what might be, and the hurt that comes when you don’t even have the chance to start, try and feel something amazing, emotionally and spiritually. You just never know.

    Great poetry, great write, and you often don’t hear about Paris being a city of the opposite of romance. But it is very much possible. You never know the things that go bump in the dark.

  2. Rowena Post author

    Thanks very much, Mabel.
    It’s been 24 years since I was in Paris and I haven’t been back…yet!
    I remember meeting a fellow poet at the Shakespeare & Company Bookshop and he used to busk and play the guitar until his lover threw his guitar into the River Seine in a rage. As a young Australian, it really made an impression on me. Of all the rivers you could throw something into, the Seine would have to be the most incredible, don’t you think?!!

  3. Rowena Post author

    That’s so true, Bjorn. That sense of being alone envelopes you like a blanket. The other terrible thing about such moments is that you think the pain is never going to end. That you’ll never get over it but somehow you do and there comes a time when you look back on it and feel okay. When the fact that you know you’ll never see them again, doesn’t hurt so bad. That all that hurt will recede off into the distance, like a waves retreating from the shore.
    That’s something I want my kids to know and other young people. That they can get through what feels like the end of the world and they’re never alone.

  4. rgayer55

    loved the poem and the epilogue. I used to write a lot of poetry, much of which was very introspective and conveyed a sense of loneliness. The feedback I got was that the writing was good, but the subject matter depressing. From time to time, we all need to express our sadness, emptiness, and frustration. But it’s important that we don’t stay in that frame of mind too long or it will overtake you. Get it out of your system and move on. No one else wants to come to your pity party. That’s one of the big lessons in life. It’s sounds like you learned it well and are now passing it forward to the next generation.

  5. Rowena Post author

    Thanks very much, Russell. I am lucky in that while I can get quite down and introspective, I usually bounce out of it fairly quickly. However, having these ups and down gives me insight into “the dark side” and I try to use that to help friends who find it harder to bounce back. I also share my story, which you can find in my about to encourage people that they can overcome adversity, even if it takes awhile. Or, they can change their perspective of it at least.
    Generally, you only reach this point after a lot of setbacks!

  6. Rowena Post author

    Both of us are married to different people. That was essentially written 24 years ago. So, you’d hope we’d moved on!!!
    I haven’t seen him since I returned to Australia. I saw him once before I flew home at Church and had some kind of complete nervous shutdown. I said hello and was a wreck. It was awful.
    Getting back to the introvert/extrovert discussion, I think I mentioned my daughter is introverted/shy. She is fine with people she knows but not with unfamiliar people or environments. Today, she had an enrichment day at another school and she really didn’t want to go and put up an incredible fight. I went through her concerns and tried to let her know I understood which was very difficult as I’m an obvious extrovert. However, I do experience other forms of extreme anxiety and was trying to convey that.
    It’s very easy to look at other people and assume they have no idea how you feel but that’s not necessarily the case.
    I don’t drink at all but I’m considering a glass of wine tonight. xx Rowena

  7. Mabel Kwong

    The heart will feel what it wants to feel. Sometimes we just have to simply…try to not feel and move on 🙂

    When someone disagrees, it always helps to see things from their perspective, and hope your daughter feels better about interacting with others at school and outside. Everything takes time and in between the good times, always good to give ourselves (and perhaps those) around us, a treat. Hope you enjoyed the wine 🙂

  8. Al

    Thanks for the link. This touched on a nerve for me. I have loved someone on the other side of the world, and I suppose I always will. Even though I have never met them physically, the souls touched.

    As for the rest. I don’t so much flirt with the dark side of writing, more make mad passionate love to it lol. A body count may make its way on to the side of my blog at some point haha. Writing on the dark side can relieve tension. It can be cathartic as you get out feelings you can’t do in real life.

  9. Rowena Post author

    Hi Al,
    I have developed some close friendships through my blog with people I’ve never met but it hasn’t gone to that extent. My cousin met his wife through playing Worlds of Warcraft. They had mutual friends who wanted to set them up but both resisted and then bingo. Now married with two kids.
    I definitely find dark writing cathartic. I also found catharsis through contemporary dance. I took a beginner’s adult class and our teacher introduced us to various choreographers and styles. This included Martha Graham who had this thing of contract and release based on childbirth. I really loved it because it allows you to really immerse yourself in the deep dark emotion but then release it and let all the darkness fly away into the ether. It’s really worked well for me but as I throw myself deeper into these emotions, my writing has gone to the dark side but without taking me with it.

  10. Al

    I would love to do contemporary dance. Wow! Martha Graham. That must have been fantastic. From looking at her. she must have been very inspirational.

  11. Rowena Post author

    Actually, Al knowing knowing your passion for the dark side, you should check out choreographer Isadora Duncan’s bio. She must be the muse inspiring all the tragedies at Friday Fictioneers. Both her children and their nanny drowned when heir runaway car went into the River Seine (knew Paris had it’s shadows). Here’s a link: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/12/24/merry-christmas-a-happy-new-year/
    Seems like dancers and writers could have some very dark moment together.
    xx Rowena

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