A bronze pony stands in the park, right by the city wall. Other parents help their children climb up. My grandma is feeding sparrows crumbs of rye bread.
Sandra and I are playing hide and seek. I sit on leathery leaves behind an oak tree and wait for her to find me. The leaves are dry, but the dirt underneath is muddy. My skirt is damp.
A thin woman in a short green coat is talking to my grandma. I think she is my mother. I crouch and pick up smooth, cool acorns. I choose only the ones with their caps on. The woman leaves.
I turn the rooster on the cathedral’s spire with my eyes.
“Excuse moi,” I read from a piece of paper. “Rue Rolland?”
The man’s scarf is grapefruit pink. His large mouth is framed by thin lips. I don’t understand a word he says.
Shoshana is a Russian Israeli living in Paris. She writes opaque poetry in English. Her earlobes are like raindrops. I met her in Toronto and invited myself in. I do not have money for a hotel, but I have a book of e.e. cummings for Shoshana.
I climb five flights of stairs. My bag hits my knees from behind. I am out of breath.
A short, scruffy man with a glass of wine in his hand motions me to come in. In the middle of the smoke-filled room someone sprawls asleep on the floor under a thin gray blanket. The sofa is litered with papers, cigarette butts, a pair of white underwear, and a plate with a half eaten tomato.
“Shoshana is out,” says the man. He winks at me and slurps his wine.