- Monet in England, and: Le Jardin des Tuileries
Monet in England
Nine months, six pictures, zero cannonballs.An emerald stone set in the silver sea,a life-giving enceinte, unlike the wallsembracing Paris in extremity:no food or Prussians in, no Frenchmen out.Six pictures. Walls around my exiled sight.
Marriage brought no manna down, no dowry, now Jean’s three. We fled just in time. Such strange recipes circulate: horse roast, rat ragout.
Landscape! Landscape! I’ve signed away tomorrowto visiting those stomach-turning Turners,his bloody sunsets like the mouth of Hell,and listening to the nattering of Pissarro.French riflemen shot Courbet, go the rumors.I’ve sold my handshake to Durand-Ruel.
Painter’s smocks, no uniforms, and if my brush gives birth again, here, for sale, my live signature: Claude Monet, hyphen, London. [End Page 449]
Le Jardin des Tuileries
“View the ruins,” barked Thomas Cook. The English flocked. Ex-Communards wondered when they’d face firing squads. Haute couture’s Charles Worth snapped up choice
capitals, quoins, consoles from the Tuileries for garden knick- knacks. The town, 1883, knocked down the stones left standing.
Evans the dentist strolled the Tuileriescommuning with garden ghosts. Eugénie’slong-ago lunatic flight felt farcicalas now he watched the bird enchanter, Pol,delight a flock of kids. They’d not been born, theynever had brawled for the rights to a scrawnypigeon to feed their family for a week.These children laughed. They watched the fat birds peckand bobble up and back, mechanicalas dolls. Evans recalled a summons to pulla festering bicuspid from the empress’sdelicate mouth. Those days the Tuileriesbrooked no decay—fragrance smothered her pain;his roused nostrils jolted his Americanuprightness. Who’d imagined he’d uprootthe empress, waltzing her to a little yacht?He watched the pigeons czardas around the palaceParis had torched past human sight—no traceof strutting kings (or emperors) of France,but flowers, fresh turf, no trace even of ruins. [End Page 450]
jay rogoff’s fifth book of poems, Venera, was just published. His previous books include The Art of Gravity and The Long Fault, and he has new work in EPOCH, The Hopkins Review, and The Hudson Review. He lives in Saratoga Springs, New York, where he teaches at Skidmore College.