The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Tuesday and Sewer Museum

A Bedtime Story
By Clay Matthews

Pipe tobacco and the passing of clouds.
The small promises of collarbones
and cedar shingles. Has it been so long
since I’ve really said anything? My days are filled
with meaningless words and the child’s
laughter. Little of what I do
is important, but maybe the ways
are. The crows outside bathing
in the gutters, the strange necessity
of holding up an appearance
and nodding our heads at dinner parties.
If I misspoke, if I misunderstood…
A litany of the stains that show
through on white T-shirts and hands.
What comes out in the wash are afternoons
and sand from the sandbox, a migration
of beaches to backyards, backyards
to the bottoms of sewer lines and imaginations:
what shore do the waves in my dreams
arrive from? Sometimes I hear you
sing there. You bade me speak,
and I howled. You bade me roll over,
and I played dead. I show up beside you
in bed with a dozen bad similes about love.
Don’t ask me what they mean, or if
I am ever          — I don’t know. Only the streetlight
coming in and out behind the curtains,
our shadows making shadows
on the wall. Your eyes gone heavy
at the sound of my voice, reading you
these things others have written.


I got to spend Monday with Cheryl, who stayed in Maryland overnight so we could spend a day watching movies and looking at Paris photos! We started with the 2011 Jane Eyre because of Michael Fassbender's Rochester, then we went to the mall to try Wicked Waffle since the crepe place is not yet open -- I had a mango and brie waffle, which was delicious, and we shared a nutella waffle for dessert. We ate them at home while watching Sharpe's Regiment and Sharpe's Siege, both of which are great episodes, then we watched a few episodes of Shoujo Cosette through the barricade right up to Valjean going into the sewer (see below). After Cheryl went home and we had dinner, our evening was centered around watching the Maryland women beat Tennessee to get into the Final Four!

Le Musée des Égouts de Paris, a.k.a. the Paris Sewer Museum, may not be the most fragrant of tourist sites, though it doesn't smell as bad as some of the Metro stations we were in, and I readily admit that it was Victor Hugo's fault we went there after his descriptions in Les Miserables. But it was fascinating -- a museum in which drain engineers are heroes who saved thousands of lives by figuring out how to purify the water supply, set within a pumping station at the Pont de l'Alma. Older son, who was often reading things on his phone instead of studying the placards in the art museums, was completely attentive. If you have engineers in your family or kids who would enjoy walking on grates over a river of sewage while learning where their poop goes, this is definitely worth an hour of your time in Paris.


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