This month's poem was entirely inspired by a beautifully nostalgic painting called Revoir Paris... Depuis Saint Cloud, and an e-mail from the artist. Marie-France described to me the beautiful area where she lives in Paris and the proximity of a grand home once owned by famous singer/composer Gilbert Bécaud.

He was known as Monsieur 100000 volts for his energetic performances and charisma. His most famous songs included "Nathalie" and "Et Maintenant". I was drawn immediately to the lyrics and whimsical beat of the first one. Nathalie is a song of love ripening between a Russian guide and her adoring tourist.

As a poet, I wrote a scene from Monsieur Becaud's older life. It opens with him strolling in a city park, still dapper and filled with the vitality of music. He passes by some old men playing petanque, (a game of lawn bowling), who discuss his presence there. They contemplate his reason for the afternoon walk and lead into the possibility of a composer searching for his lost muse. Details like red geraniums and a gold foil wrapper provide a sudden flash back to the day he first met Nathalie. It was a cold day in Red Square where the domed towers of the Kremlin guarded the plaza with regal silence. She was not a guide as suggested by his song, but a blonde girl who simply turned around to ask him, a convenient stranger, to light her cigarette. The unlit smoke was held like a piece of chalk, ready to sign their encounter with red sparks of heat, (ellipses of fire), that would pause the scene and leave him thinking about what might happen next.
Flirtation dominated the moment but words were omitted and things were just assumed. The flame generated between them and that flare emitted by the cigarette, became points of suspension inferring more, this romance would continue. Their meeting would be a fateful one. And in the end, it led to the creation of his beloved and imaginative chanson, Nathalie.

© 2011, Wendy Howe. E-mail.