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At Père Lachaise

It wasn't always going to be like this.
You were going to read books and grow up
and understand more. You weren't going
to bury people, you were going to study
Proust's gray-black grave at Père Lachaise
and read the note the French girl left there.
Who was she with her bobbed hair, her violin case?
One day you would die but it was so far away
time itself would be different by thenó
only time is not different as the years go by
just faster and it gets harder not easier to die.
So you practice: climb the blue and unremembered hills,
catch your breath on the bridge
between the cliffs, trumpet flowers
blooming like the robber barons' wild hair.
Your first bike was blue with ribbons,
you called her BlueBell.
Along Pierrepont Street you sped
wondering who Pierre was and where
his bridge had been: were you now
riding over it unable to see the chasm
of violet rocks below your pedaling feetó?
Proust you are dead but I am reading
your white bones your black words.
I laugh aloud in the French interior designer's
soft white bed eating a pistache macaron.
When we die gloved in earth we'll wonder why
we ever felt aswim in shame the lawns of June
were ablaze the lawns ablaze

Meghan O'Rourke

Sun in Days
W. W. Norton

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