On the Île de la Cité,
heartbeats away from Notre Dame,
souvenirs, bus tours,
old men fish.

Every morning,
smelling of garlic and yesterday’s catch,
they bring square wicker baskets,
dulled by years of grime,
with lunch, bait, and bottles
filled and recorked at the marchand du vin.
They mark the days wedging those corks
in seawall crags –
hundreds of corks to use as bobbers
or simply to say

Pierre, Guillaume,
Jean-Luc were here, ate fromage
and saucisson, threw crumbs to pigeons,
heads and guts to feral cats
who rubbed against their cuffs,
spoke of youth or war
or nothing at all,
and fished.

Sarah Russell
First published in Poppy Road Review
Winner of the Poetry Nook Contest
Republished in 
Days of Stone 
Republished in Poems in the Waiting Room