The bus trundled,

and out the window

centuries old stone tenements loomed

made modern with spray paint scrawls

their iron balconies

spruced up by les femmes

wearing red and blue,

hanging laundry

as women had

for hundreds of years.


And over there

the Eiffel Tower lived up to its name,

towering, as it always had,

as long as you could remember

and then back

into times you couldn’t.


a knife slitting the Parisian sky

making it bleed sleet


a needle stabbing your American eyes

forcing you to remember the last glimpse you’d had


Years before, driving at night,

beleaguered, scared, short on gas.

Then, the Eiffel Tower glowed

in the distance

a beacon

not a weapon.


Now, the bus lurched on,

the Eiffel Tower gone

disappeared in the rearview

but still there

because you knew that today’s glimpse

was one of thousands,

that in fact

there was no time

just snap shots

various expressions

of the same scenes

the same truths

the same people


again and

again and



static monuments and moments

shot from different angles

through eternity


The way you knew

when you first held your baby boy

that someday he would tower over you

pick you up and spin you around

as if you were weightless

when you stepped off a plane from France.


The way you understood

when your toddler daughter

teetered toward you

having caught you

horrifyingly naked

with a bastard who didn’t love you

and pressed your clothes into your hands

her bearing regal

her eyes wise

as if she already knew

the ways in which the wrong men

could cheapen you,

had already diminished you.

“Remember, you are a queen,”

she seemed to say,

and you wondered then

if she had once been your mother

if you took turns in this game

playing protector.


in France, they called you

La Reine Tawni

echoing her sentiment


The way you accepted

the first time you glimpsed The One’s

forever eyes

that he would be the love of your life

that he was the love of all of your lives

and dressed as love

he would do what love does best

break you

and make you again

something stronger


the truest unraveled and rewoven

tapestry you could be


the way bones knit themselves together again

after snapping


the way skin grows back thicker

after bleeding


He would shatter you

and regather the shards,

reimagining your soul

as a vase whose cracks

are grouted with treasure.


the way the Japanese say

that broken things are more valuable

because of the gold that shimmers in their mended moments


You saw time as a spiral

a frozen, static thing

a series of points on a map.


When you draw the camera back

out into forever

time is nothing more

than Einstein’s stubbornly persistent illusion.


Reality is

an eternal, unchanging snapshot


and death is nothing more

than the blinking of a shutter


and love is love is love

and towers are towers are towers


and everything about this ride we are on

adds up to heaven


and all there is

is life.

Photo of my tattoos, taken by Isabelle Menon in France, who dubbed me La Reine Tawni.

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