by Billy Collins
He considers the boulevards ideal for thinking,
so he takes the air on a weekday evening
to best appreciate the crisis of modern life.
I thought I would try this for a while,
but instead of being in Paris, I was in Florida,
so the time-honored sights were not available to me
despite my regimen of aimless strolling—
no kiosks or glass-roofed arcades,
no beggar with a kerchief covering her hair,
no woman holding her hat down as she crossed a street,
no Victor Hugo look-alike scowling in a greatcoat,
no girls selling fruit or sweets from a cart,
no prostitutes circled under a streetlamp,
no solitude of the moving crowd
where I could find the dream of refuge.
I did notice a man looking at his watch
and I reflected briefly on the passage of time,
then I saw two ladies dressed in lime-green and pink
and I pondered the fate of the sister arts,
as they stepped into the street arm in arm.
Who needs Europe? I muttered into my scarf
as a boy flew by on a skateboard
and I fell into a reverie on the folly of youth
and the tender, distressing estrangement of my life.
Last updated April 03, 2011