CorksOn the Île de la Cité,heartbeats away from Notre Dame,souvenirs, bus tours, nearPont St. Louis on Quai aux Fleursold men fish.Every morning,smelling of garlic and yesterday's catch,they bring square wicker baskets,dulled by years of grime,with lunch, bait, and bottlesfilled and recorked at the marchand du vin.They mark the days wedging those corksin the seawall's crags --hundreds of corks to use as bobbersor simply to sayPierre, Guillaume,Jean-Luc were here, ate fromageand saucisson, threw crumbs to pigeons,heads and guts to feral catswho rubbed against their cuffs,spoke of youth or waror nothing at all,and fished.Stage 4We meet at the park on Tuesdays --our habit of a decade. This timemy dog doesn't recognizemy best friend's scent, maskedby chemo.Her smile is tired, losing its resolve;her skin waxy, looking as if it'll rub offlike her hair. She's wearingthe cap I knit for her, a garish orange haloaround her face. I should have picked pastel.It's a blustering, wet March morning,and we shiver in our slickers. As we walkshe asks why now, when spring is soon,when the world's so bright?It all looks gray to me, but when I hug herunder the umbrella, I almost see the colorsthat she sees, glistening in her eyes.
Sarah Russell is in metaphor rehab after spending many years teaching, writing and editing academic prose. Her short stories and poems have appeared in anthologies and online venues including The Houseboat and Misfit Magazine. She won the Goodreads poetry contest in February, 2014. See more of her poems at www.SarahRussellPoetry.com.