Invitation to the Tavern after Midnight
“La danse au chanson mariait!” ~ Bizet’s Carmen
Loosen your cravat, and toss aside your tailcoat. Who cares if the floor sticks beneath your boots? Crushed orange and spilled Manzanilla tang the musty night. Dissolve your morals in this glass of ale, and sag into that chair of wicker and worn wood. Mercédès and Frasquita beg you to fetch your guitar, splintered but singing, from the wall where it hangs.
Flex your fingers, and find the chords. Surrender your pulse to the pounding of my heels. Let the fringe of my raven’s shawl caress your cheek as I strut. This inn is mine, and you are, too! If your hungry hands want to crumple my petticoats before dawn, strum when I pull these unseen cords.
We are victorious tonight, no longer soiled—neither farmer nor thief nor invisible maid, but ravished and remade regal through song. So launch your longing to the ceiling alongside my shadow, drenched in yearning, cresting in crescendos, as our clapping rhythm binds our souls. Swell your lungs and throat…then, throw back your head and wail.
A decade-long resident of Tampa, Gisèle writes about memories, art, and volunteering with the local refugee community. She also loves synchronized swimming, wine consumption, and teaching her daughters to curse in French. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in the Baltimore review, Pirene’s Fountain, Saw Palm, and Havik! Her interviews with women readers appear at giselelewis.com.
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