moments of illumination in the city of light

013 : Jennifer K. Dick Quais of Seine and Canal, partially the place near Bastille where you board the canauxrama boats near the tip of Île de la Cité
Born in 20th century in Iowa City, Jennifer K. Dick currently works as Writer; Teacher at EHESS & Ecole Polytechnique; Translator Why Paris? Gosh, why not. She digs the following Paris bits: 1. Walking and wandering the streets, canals, quais: esp. on sunny days 2. The sound of the language 3. My jobs 4. Time a place like here can give you 5. Readings and bookstores She is, however, a bit miffed by The odor of the métro, winter rain, winter nights starting at 4pm, the prices of things (rent, caffination, clothes & shoes), the possibility of eternal solitude among crowds For more info on Jennifer K. Dick you should send an email or visit her blog.

image: Jennifer K. Dick

“Gilded angels taking off from Châtelet, Bastille, Invalides”

Paris gathered under huddled packs.  Bridges or arabesques.  She, the late, of the… And who has been between the blonde floorboards? Remembering stories, afternoons (she) fanned night into water. The purloined letter and the patchwork clock ticking heart underfoot.  What did she store in there? Buoys in our thoughts, weights and average body height between streetlamps.  She in dreams, on the heat, takes down the packaging list and labels for supply crates. Things we’d need as cadavers: moccasins, candles, a good Hardy Boy novel. She wonders what Peter collects, bodies in underwater grottoes netted below bronze support beams, though she herself is steeled for the leap. To push past the Pont des Arts [1] in the off hours. Prefer to eat, to read, to ….? Huddled caverns and she cannot think. She had not reflection on this hand (to hard) surface. Which to palpate mid-street? She sounds between voices. Gilded angels taking off from Châtelet, Bastille, Invalides. Raft-like, Charon’s[2] rotted wooden mass pontoons past Napoleon’s stashed mummies: canauxrama, [3] damp rags or a season. It seems her invalidated choices irritate a cumbersome number of well-wishers.  She leaves a note anyway, stuck under lion-paw. Cities or combustibles raked like raku pots crackling under pressure. She picks at the pieces, in tears, muttering spells to call them back to herself. Abracadabra. Melopoeia[4]. “Tressle tables and incarnations of incandescence,” she asks, “and if the body is ink glowing slow into devise?” This scheme rooting for itself.  Why not?  Rapid incapacitation is like this stroll down Beaumarchais, round Printemps.  Pockets empty.  Carvaggio’s decapitated carcasses coming to life in the Louvre. She clamors onto the Tuileries.  She knows this is her doing, undoing, done because too many masses were in the shopping. Round the tables she gives over her coins.  Flipped heads up, a monkey tail’s writing back in the Cluny,[5] writhing the back-handed permission behind the tapestries. “Where,” they repeat, “where did you” (numerical responsibility)  “store…?” Admission in admonishment or rather.  She steadies herself.  Vaguely.  A contusion displaced.  Or places where things take off: Charles de Gaulle, Orly, a dug-up set of bones on a turn in Les Halles[6].  Investigation leads her back and forth, bright then faded. For hours she licks the walls, reads the captions. This epoch’s insistence on a blank state.  She’s tabula rasa with a laugh. “This is the toe-tag labeller,” she says, “this is the job I want.”  No use. Held up hand dismembered from its handout. Mice barrel down on the quais making their getaway. What was that again under the sweaty spotlight? Occupants stashed in the annals of her story?  If threats entreat response, letters cut from newspapers blacken skin. We feed on the Parisian, Le Monde, Libé, Le Figaro.[7].  What out of hand is getting to?  This towards meandering.  Inadmissible relations and circumstantial books in an opened case. Squint towards a batch of things suspended, gathering round. It’s just a tourist trap, a treatise on a universe composed of tiny lights. Things, like her dialogues, just under the Seine. A pulse in hindsight trickling. 

referenced works

  1. The Pont des Arts, arguably the most beautiful bridge in Paris, is a footbridge across the Seine which leads from the Louvre to the Institut de France.  Originally commissioned by Napoleon and constructed between 1801 and 1804, the bridge was entirely rebuilt between 1981 and 1984. Today it is a popular picnic spot for Parisians of all ages, although it is frequently and annoyingly blocked off for film shoots and art installations.

  2. Charon, in Greeky mythology, is the ferryman of the river Styx, the river which divides the land of the living from Hades, the land of the dead. Charonne is the name of a street and a metro station in Paris’s 11th arrondissement, not far from Bastille, near where this story takes place.  In 1962, a manifestation protesting the Algerian War was held at this metro station. Under the order of Maurice Papon (a famous Vichy collaborationist, condemned for crimes against humanity in 1998, and then-Prefect of Paris under De Gaulle) ordered the demonstration to be put down. Nine protesters took refuge in the locked metro station and suffocated to death.

  3. A company offering cruises on the Seine
  4. .
  5. The art of composing melodies.

  6. A museum of medieval Paris, in the 5th arrondissement.

  7. The stomach of Paris.  See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Halles.

  8. Parisian newspaper. Libé is short for Libération.

location information

  • Name: near the tip of Île de la Cité
  • Address: quai de la rapée
  • Time of story: Late NIght
  • Latitude: 48.846968
  • Longitude: 2.36603
  • Map: Google Maps


  1. Suzanne in Paris thinks: I love this slant story with all the stops along the way… the word play and the social commentary. Sublime, especially paired with the image. Who hasn’t stopped at a store window in this city and pondered…thanks for writing it down.


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