Sixty in September, autumn of your life. You think, What if I die without seeing Paris? Like that meme making the rounds some years back, a middle-aged woman in a business suit, her hand over her mouth in an expression of horror, saying “I forgot to have children!” You go to Paris. You record every sight, every step. The art, the gardens, the food. You stroll along the Seine with a pain au chocolat buttery-fresh from the oven at a corner boulangerie. Sip Beaujolais in the land where the grapes are grown. At Le Flore en L’Ile on the Ile Saint-Louis you taste your first soupe a l’oignon gratinee. Bliss in a bowl—rich bay-and thyme-scented stock, sweet-smoky-slow-cooked caramelized onions, a blanket of nutty gruyere that cascades, bubbly and crusty, over the side of the bowl, atop croutons that absorb broth from below and cheese from above. You’re a vegetarian, and that pungent base is beef stock. You feign ignorance. You’ve happily ordered vegetable entrees and fish, not tempted by cassoulet or duck a l’orange, boeuf bourguignon or coq au vin. But this is different. You sample the soup everywhere, like Goldilocks going from bowl to bowl: “This one’s a little bland,” “This one doesn’t have enough cheese,” “This one’s just right….” The first bowl remains the gold standard. Back home you resume your meatless ways. And you treasure your secret—what you do in Paris stays in Paris.
Alice Lowe’s flash fiction and nonfiction have been or will be published this year in Hobart, JMWW, Door Is a Jar, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Sleet. Her essays have been cited in the Best American Essays and nominated for Pushcart Prizes and Best of the Net. She writes about life and literature, food and family in San Diego, California and posts her work at www.aliceloweblogs.wordpress.com.
Kathryn DeZur is a photographer, poet, and professor who teaches English at the State University of New York at Delhi. Her photographs feature places and objects that point toward an existence or essence beyond our ordinary experiences of them by translating them into an aesthetic register. These photos look for clues to the transcendent within the material. Her photograph Ciaroscuro: Tulips won the second place People’s Choice Award at the CANO Member’s Art Exhibition. Her poetry chapbook, Blue Ghosts, was published by Finishing Line Press last year, and her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.
What we don’t know and what we don’t need:
Is it better to shut down the economy or not;
Is it better to catch a little dose from a crowd
Or suffer alone with your head unbowed;
Does an old drug work or is it just a rumor;
Does the viral dose count or the time of exposure;
Does wearing a mask make things better or worse;
Is it better to give hope or suffer a curse;
Is immunity a careless fib or a malignant lie;
Is disunity more dangerous than viral disease;
Is a shortage of adult behavior just an evil seed;
Are our children really safe playing close to the edge;
What good does hate do in stirring the danger?
So much we don’t know amid much we won’t use.
Michael Salcman, poet, physician and art historian, was chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Maryland and president of the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore. Poems appear in Arts & Letters, Hopkins Review, The Hudson Review, New Letters, Notre Dame Review, Poet Lore and Solstice. Books include The Clock Made of Confetti (Orchises, 2007), The Enemy of Good is Better (Orchises, 2011), Poetry in Medicine, his popular anthology of classic and contemporary poems on doctors, patients, illness & healing (Persea Books, 2015), and A Prague Spring, Before & After (2016), winner of the 2015 Sinclair Poetry Prize from Evening Street Press. Shades & Graces (Spuyten Duyvil, 2020), is the inaugural winner of the Daniel Hoffman Legacy Book Prize.
Issue 103, published July 2022, features works of poetry, flash fiction, short nonfiction, and photography by Laurel Benjamin, Ellen Birrell, Ronda Broatch, Mary Buchinger, Roger Camp, John Cullen, Emily Davis, Lisa Delan, Lauren Endicott, James William Gardner, David Goodrum, Peter Grieco, Greg Hom, Jenny Hubbard, Rachel Laverdiere, Larena Nellies-Ortiz, Dante Novario, Dian Parker, Yasmin Phillip, Michelle Reed, Amanda L. Rioux, Jim Ross, Aaron Sandberg, Yvette Schnoeker-Shorb, Beth Spencer, Jeffrey Thompson, Patricia Walsh, Racine Watson, Richard Weaver, and Hannah Zhang.
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