September 2017

Back to Issue 2

Children in Square Hector Berlioz, Clichy Paris

By Jena Woodhouse

A bird I can’t identify – perhaps a raven

Francophone – marks the intervals of time

distinctly as a metronome.


Bundled in unwieldy jackets, children

chirp and run; they climb and slide, ride

painted steeds caparisoned in bright motifs

like chargers in a tournament at Carcassonne.


The only silent onlooker, a grey statue of Berlioz

depicted in an attitude of listening, looms paternal

and austere, his cloak a mite the worse for wear.


If he were to come to life, those features, serious,

intent, might register the sounds of children

playing without tears, their mothers’ morning

chatter, audible through grind and clash of gears

as garbage trucks reverse and brake outside the green

iron palisade, interspersed with vernal

cherry trees about to bloom.


One small boy, whose bonnet is a russet

foxy head with ears, holds three women hostage

with a tantrum they cannot appease.


Deaf to this cacophony, amplified by ruckus

from construction in full swing across the thoroughfare,

Berlioz looks on, impassive, lost in music

of the spheres, a stranger from another world

amid the babble of the square.