On Monday, we stopped in a small village to visit the museum of Frédéric Mistral, a famous French poet. Of course it was closed. It was Monday after all, and it was France. The strong winds of the same name (mistral) blew us back into town on Tuesday.
Dominique drove down the alley behind the museum and stopped in front of two large white chickens and a black barking dog. His creative parking sense never ceases to amaze me. “Nice doggy…” he said while opening the door slowly. Clearly this dog didn’t speak English.
We tiptoed to the closed door of the museum. The sign seemed to indicate that it should be open. But no. We walked across the street to the office of tourism, which in itself brought a smile — a town this size. Dominique inquired about the museum. “Oh, it would be closed for a year,” he said so casually in French. “Is there a place to sit?” I thought. “You can go across the street to the cemetery and visit his tomb,” he said. There was no meter to our chicken coop parking, so we agreed.
Inside the cemetery a small sign pointed to the tomb. They put a picture of it on the sign, which was clearly needed, because there was no name on the tomb. We stared for a minute through our blowing hair. Looked at each other and walked back towards the alley. The dog barked in his own angry language. The chickens joined in with theirs. We got out of the wind into the warmth of the car.
I had wanted a famous poem. But I suppose we had written our own. From chickens to tombstone, we wrote the words that I will remember — with all due respect to Frédéric, probably much longer than any of his.
I live in the word. The sun is rising. Releasing the hounds. Releasing the poets. Let’s begin.