Paris by Leah Browning

Paris

Every day now we wake
in an unexpected hotel room.

Will this be the afternoon
in Paris, with birds singing

in the courtyard
below our window?

Or, more likely, will we find ourselves
somewhere else entirely. Most days,

the room is either too hot
or too cold, or an unsettling

combination of both;
the sun angles in through

ill-fitting curtains, or
we’ve been woken in the night

by loud, frightening noises:
fists pounding on a door, sirens.

It’s too late or too early,
and we’ve traveled too long;

it’s the night I was pregnant
and we were moving cross-country,

or the morning after any sleepless,
swollen night. The headache

won’t go away, or we’re back in
Toronto, in the hotel with the

wedding reception down the hall
from our room, the blaring music

and the fight that went on so long
that someone called the police.

There are so many bad days.
Every morning, though, I wake up

hoping for just one more golden afternoon
(so lovely and heartbreaking),

for sunlight in the courtyard
and birdsong.

by Leah Browning

Editor’s Note: The short stanzas and line breaks help keep the yearning in this poem to a manageable level. This is a lovely example of how the form of a poem can complement the content.

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