Chez Le Père Lathuille
It’s lunchtime on a sunny day in early October, when Claire, a wealthy widow with a stern
demeanor, sits at a table on an expensive Paris restaurant patio with her grown son, Henri.
An eager young man with a crooked black neck tie, Henri leans in,
places his left arm on the back of his mother’s chair, as eye to eye he draws her near.
Henri’s fingers wrap the stem of his half-filled glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc,
almost gold in the sunlight, as he begins pleading his case…
Claire listens to Henri’s calculated appeal, poised, and regal, in her hat with the sweeping black feather,
matching her black hair.
Does Claire’s stern expression conceal her belief that Henri seems sincere?
Sun and lush foliage frame the measure of their every word, and every gesture.
Jacques, a sidelined stoic, ready perhaps, even anxious to serve, stands just within earshot,
a thin man with a receding hairline, and a complex, small gold pitcher in hand.
When Jacques notices Henri’s half-filled glass, he dares not interrupt Henri’s plea.
Instead, he waits like a statue, intrigued by Claire, her straight posture, and serious face.
Jacques keeps his hand in his pocket, taking notes with his eyes as he tunes in with envy
to Henri’s attempt to persuade his mother…
Tired legs, and feet that ache, Jacques laments his poor lot in life through an old
script about how he blew the chance to own the restaurant he serves.
Though beyond his ability to explain, Jacques knows from experience, false steps cripple,
ill-timed words wound, and all deeds feed the deeds that follow…
He fears his approach to the table might cast a shadow on Claire’s attention, and jinx Henri.
So, he keeps his distance, and the well-positioned widow ignores him.
But what the Far East calls karma, or science calls The Butterfly Effect, Jacques’ doctor
in nineteenth century France, views as a few of his crazy ideas.
Never one to act with haste, Claire motions for the check and buys time to decide…
As they leave, she suggests they continue their talk next week in a nearby café.
Perhaps, as they exit through the patio, Henri decides to free his thoughts of her,
until they meet again…
Obsessed with the vision of Henri’s half-empty glass, Jacques’ fidget becomes a nervous
pace, his thoughts race back and forth in time with his feet.
For the rest of his shift, Jacques broods and berates himself.
If he’d offered to refill Henri’s glass, what might Claire have decided, as Henri sipped?
Would he ever know? Could he ever know? Maybe his encounter with Henri and Claire, embeds
a new syllable or two in Jacques’ familiar script.
Michele Harvey’s poems have appeared in several literary publications including: Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Progenitor, Copper Nickel and The Litchfield Review. Her sonnet, “Dinosaur Ridge,” is the focal point for a permanent art in public places display at the Jefferson County Government Center railway station in Golden, Colorado. Michele Harvey is the author of Poetry for Living an Inspired Life.
The Ekphrastic Review
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