When I was six, open air book stalls along the banks
of the gray green Seine, sold old maps, exotic, all fake,
that fascinated me for whom they were the genuine
doorways to an imaginary geography, the presence
of other places much more interesting than here

My father tolerated the spell I was under with mixed
indulgence and disdain, he let me look and look
and look and ask questions – “What language is this?”
“Do ships still sail here?” Does this island still exist?
“Why not?” he would ask, puffing out white smoke

Despite many trips, despite my yearning for these
talismans of voyages, despite hours spent looking,
spent comparing, spent investigating, we never
bought one of these maps, which made them ever
more precious, lodged as they were deep in my mind

Not only much older now than I was then, but much
older now than my father was then, I hold it all
as something ordinary, imperfect, yet magical,
the way we were together then along the banks
of the gray green Seine, as I imagined myself

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