The Louvre is so filled with masterpieces
that one doesn’t know
whether to feel awe or apathy.
Crowded in amongst Caravaggios and Pugets,
the tourists shuffle inch by inch
to view the masters.
But outside those carved marble halls
are shallow, flat pools
that reflect the facades
of the opulent wings of the building–
Denon, Sully, Richelieu.
Even their names are decadent.
Those mirror pools also reflect
the modern, simple
glass and metal pyramids
that emerge from that sumptuous ground
like progress, like industry.
And though there are riches untold–
oil paintings, sculptures, frescoes–
it is the exterior of the Louvre,
those peaceful rippling pools,
the slow cigarette-burn of dusk,
that overrides the senses
and remains vibrant in memory.
I’m sitting in the Dulles airport in Washington D.C. after a long and mostly uneventful flight from Paris. It will take a few posts to tell you all about my trip, but for now, let’s start at the beginning. As the plane dipped below the cloud cover to land, I noticed the unique loveliness of the French countryside. It is so different from other landscapes. For example, when you first glimpse Ireland, you are overwhelmed by the vibrancy and variety of green that paints the country. But France is a patchwork of pastels. The fields swathe the land like a quilt, each one a pale mint green or a lilac or subdued gold. The colors are hazy, dream-like, as if dawn had just shrouded the earth with her gauzy veil. The ground is almost flat, with a hint of gently rolling hills. It makes me feel instantly at peace, as I hang suspended between heaven and earth. But the plane eventually lands, and the countryside is exchanged for the urban cityscape. Certainly, it has its own charms, but that’s for another time.