Not upside down so much as inside out.
Tourism shot up since des anglais
booked choice apartments for the Prussian fight,
ordering at the Café de la Paix
odd-shaped cuts of quizzical wartime meat
whose source you never would identify
without credentials in zoology.
Life went wild when Paris's gates slammed shut,
the beautiful fireworks raining actual fire
upon our homes and families. They fall
all night some nights, a manic meteor
deluge we cheer on from Montmartre's hill.
By day they send up volatile coal tar
gas balloons to float over the city wall,
state secrets delivered at the wind's will
(unless shot down) to Rouen or the Loire.
Each bombed-out house serves up its secret slice
of life, interior papered walls intact,
a mess of sky-blue kitchens, red boudoirs,
green sitting rooms, and yellow baths stacked
like child's blocks, warring patterns, clashing colors
in an exploded view, a cataract
of brilliance spilling out to stain our strict
gray town, our skeletons turned out of doors.
From his pram, aged two, Vuillard
took in those bright-toned rooms' exposed
skin. His young eyes bugged, retinas
goggling green, blue, brown, raving red.
Colors blown up, crazy-quilt,
recall his oils two decades on:
wall designs eat up women's gowns,
pattern devouring pattern.
Volume 65, Number 2