Remembering Paris

By Eduard Schmidt-Zorner

Petit-Montrouge Underground Quarries

supplied 2000 years the stones for Paris

night and day, gypsum, and clay,

now the urban ossuary for six million dead,

undermined and full of holes as a French cheese

the limestone of the underground

might bring Paris to collapse

and unite the living and the dead.

French sense of beauty and elegance

did not stop in front of the „gates of hell“

130 steps down into the underground.

Piled up skulls and bones in a charnel house,

like the cheeses and pumpkins on the market

to give them a decorative appearance

to compete with the architecture

and splendour above ground.

Where are all the shadows

coming from, those wisps of fog

which surround us day and night?

Facades of 1789, blood-splattered

and the gutters red of blood

and the hissing of the guillotine

the falling sharp blade

to cut the neck.

Is it the sweet smell

of confectionaries and boulangeries,

or the corpses' scent of centuries

ascending from metros and underground?

Nightly processions,

covered wagons transferring remains

to a mine shaft near the Rue de la Tombe-Issoire,

where millions of skulls are neatly piled up

to compete with the accuracy above.

Perhaps there is so much beauty and elegance,

to camouflage the pungent stench of transience.

Why am I so attracted to Paris?

The whisper, talk, murmur

of millions of ghosts, geniuses, writers, and artists,

the lips of love, the warm skin, the embrace,

the liberty, the open nights, the empathy,

the moments of love, the paradise

side by side with cold death.


Published on April 18th, 2023




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