Crossing the street is an adventure.
There is a crosswalk, but the cars don’t stop.
Once across, you have to look both ways
across two different bike lanes where the bikes
constantly race by with a single ring of the bell
before trying to cross the other side of the road
in a similar chaotic manner.
Inside the Monoprix, there is a single security guard
at the top of the stairs.
Monoprix is like the Walmart of France.
We have to go downstairs where they keep the food.
Everything in small single packages.
Fresh baguettes stocked by the entrance.
We grab one and look for meat and cheese.
The French love their ham.
It’s Jambon everywhere.
We find a pack of chicken and a pack of bacon
and get a little pack of gouda.
My wife picks up some good French butter as well.
Lastly, we grab a few bottles of cheap French wine
and a pack of bottled water and head towards
The young woman in front of us
is having her shopping rung through,
but does not notice us waiting to place
our items on the conveyor.
I say tapping her on the shoulder.
She turns and moves and I smile.
On the way back, I forget about the bike lanes
and almost get run over.
The elevator takes as long as everything else here.
We get in and it stops on another floor.
The woman who gets in is French.
She stands about a foot from my face
and stares at me the entire time.
I stare at the ceiling, trying to look away.
Back in our room, I ask my wife what the hell is
up with that no personal space and stare
right into your eyes thing.
I know right!
my wife says.
Must be a cultural thing.
Then she laughs and asks me why I suddenly
started speaking Italian.
To that woman in line at the Monoprix,
You said “scusi” instead of “excusez-moi.”
I think for a minute and then laugh.
Well, that’s just like me, isn’t it?
Goes to France, starts speaking Italian.
It totally is!
Remember when we were in Florida
and you ordered Alaskan Pollock instead of
fresh grouper right off the dock outside?
I tell her I do
and we both laugh.
Squishing by her to get into the bathroom,
I grab her by the shoulders and say:
She laughs so hard she chokes
as I close the door behind me
and try to figure out why the toilet is
backwards so that it catches the shit
and not the pee and always
leaves a stain.
Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage. His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly,The Rye Whiskey Review, Outlaw Poetry Network, Under The Bleachers, The Dope Fiend Daily and In Between Hangovers.
From Paris Poems which is available now on Amazon from Black Shamrock Press.
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