If you don’t have it in your own backyard,
go find it somewhere else. Outings are good
to take as randomly as possible.
Go find a table in a restaurant
a town or two away, a corner table
with a view of the whole place. Notice the flower
the owner’s mother liked enough to paint
on a canvas twice as big as the TV,
so you can wander on one petal’s rim
and slide from there into its white abyss
and climb out up the seed-pod in the middle.
It’s easier to do this close to home,
but never fail to go as far from home
as you can find the means to get. One Sunday
on a clean bench in the Parc du Ranelagh
in the prosperous Seizième Arrondissement
across from the blind Monets in the Marmottan,
I bought a double-chocolate ice-cream stick
from the vendor’s wagon near the carousel.
I mention that the bench was clean because
most of the benches there had droppings on them,
which was no one’s fault. All I had to do
was find a clean spot and a bit of shade
close to the trashbin for the stick and wrapper,
after consuming the Häagen-Dazs chef d’oeuvre
to spoil the sumptuous feast of blues and greens.
The rest was autumn and the moms and prams
and boys on bicycles with training wheels.
A girl in a blue dress walked out of the sun
straight up the one long path among the trees
as far as someplace else she had to go.

Articles by Michael Heffernan

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