She giggled when she called out
The next street on our journey,
Humor to mask the aura of
Latent stress that clung to
These missions par vélo

The pronunciation was not
Correct, but wasn’t too far off;
Les Boches would have called it
That back when they ruled this rue,
When it was a place of torture for the Juden

Having escaped the minor chaos
Of dodging cars around the Arc, the
Temporary tranquility of the boulevard
Was welcome, les grands maisons remnants
Of those societal pillars who refuse to crumble

Intended as a promenade for those dandies and
Mademoiselles to be seen and to judge,
To connect the heart of the city to its preserved nature,
The Haussmanian legacy continued, an imperious
Imperialism still hanging in the air

Or it may have been construction dust
As the past mingled with the future
In our lungs, as the invisible fumes
Choked from the too-close vans made
Proximate by the shrinking street

The Bois was close, an intentional respite
From the press of concrete and steel, but far enough
That we felt a disorientation of space and time,
Existing in the immediate scene, but lost in
The pain and joy that preceded and was foretold

We could easily have been astride a different
Saddle or electromagnetically hovering, although
The luxury of pondering was rendered a true
Indulgence, a dangerous flippancy which realization
Triggered an involuntary increase in force on the pedals

The bombastic lookback signaled her intuition of
My reverie, not annoyed but not unbothered, the conflicted
Subtleties of a burgeoning adult wondering which genes she
Was keen to inherit or else troubled by the inevitability of
Their burdens, knowing the gifts were drawn by untamable horses

Skirting the sideview of our last impediment, we entered
The arbor’s embrace, the traversing paths reminders of choices
And detours; a freedom hard-earned and precious, byways to
Splendor and degradation, bliss and misery, so brightly
Legible in the new language of our summer sojourn

Peace in a place bearing the name of a warrior; it no
Longer surprises that there is no easy answer, no
Ready explanation, nothing but the inexorable
Buzz of quarks and the unrelenting queries of a
Life that harbors inexplicability

It is home and foreign, comfortable and stinging
The hubs spin, we move on.

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