Monday, May 6, 2013

First Evening in Paris

        First evening in Paris. Bistro Le Temps des Cerises. In a park I have seen blossoms. Cherries? I don’t know. Tulips bloomed. And lilacs, that deep French blue. I have made my way to this tiny restaurant after studying a map. Inside, wooden tables sit on trestles, reminding me of my grandmother’s old pedal Singer sewing machine. The tables are low. I hardly have room to cross my legs. I order wine, a light rose, read the latest issue of Ploughshares, edited by Major Jackson, a poet new to me. In a profile of Jackson, poet Gregory Pardlo writes of Jackson’s double vision, encountering unflattering cultural allusions and still maintaining self confidence and pride within. Jackson’s work is grounded in a sensibility of having an ethical sensibility to his African-American community, and now I’m thinking about my Bat Mitzvah, and my reasons for continuing on my journey. Here in this Paris bistro, I have a flash of recognition. Like Jackson, I want to be responsible and responsive to my roots, my more recent roots and my ancient roots. And this is what my Bat Mitzvah is about, finding connections. This is also what my work is about, the reason I return to France, a country that gives me a glimpse of European Judaism. I could have chosen another country, but I have an ancestral link to France, and I love France, this bistro where I, a woman of certain age, feel comfortable dining alone. My fish arrives, a white fish I can’t name served on a bed of sautéed green beans and mushrooms, all seasoned with parsley, salt, pepper and  finished with olive oil and a balsamic glaze. Dipping a slice of baguette, I savor taste. I am both away and at home. 


  1. And now you taunt your readers with the food of Paris and we sit here salivating as we read.
    This is part of your ongoing journey Sandell and is important but the Bat Mitzvah is important too in that same journey and you owe it to yourself to see it through .
    xx Hugs xx

  2. I appreciate and marvel at your support. I hope you are beginning to heal-- that does not mean to forget. It means to be true to who you are.

  3. What a beautiful post, Sandell. It brought tears to my eyes. And of course, there's Paris! Ah, Paris...
    Sending love and joie de vivre from VCCA/Malta.

  4. Thanks so much, Jamie. I must hear about VCCA/Malta. Tell me when you return.

  5. Oh this makes me so eager to be in Paris myself. I don't feel the connection to Paris that you do - the language is such a barrier for me. But that ache to be on a journey that this piece conveys. I love it.


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