It took a while to get used to the way they bundle things, the French, the brown
paper, string-ties, flashy bags with handles. It took some time to suss out
their everlasting care with oeuf dur and frommages, how yogurt comes packed in
those small ceramic pots, and how Madame’s cool frown is her way to assign
all her regard to the slicing and packing of gros pain for one. It took a while to reckon
with detailed attention. I had no history with demi-loaves, the single cup
of perfect Provence tea. I’d never learned to see how the yellow dress I prized,
the one delivered in a smashing orange box with painted ribbon didn’t fit my life,
how my unstudied skirts, uneven collars, ragged hair were not badges of nonchalance
but of surrender. The flag hanging on my neighborhood boutique de lingerie
reads: dites-moi tous. I have nothing to tell. Instead, I go inside to buy
the cut silk negligee, take it home in its exquisite package, unwrap it, happy
to let it go unseen. Alone among the ribbons, I take a chance on satin,
on tissue and ties, begin to learn again how carefully to wrap myself, in France.
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 14, Issue 1.