The Bedouins of Paris

By David Shumate

The city of Paris appeared to a band of Bedouins somewhere out in the Sahara. They were searching for a place to pitch their tents for the night when one of them noticed buildings on the horizon. They continued traveling and soon found themselves on a side street in Montparnasse. But they knew better than to trust in illusions. They had heard how their ancestors had come upon the city of Babylon and were honored guests for a dozen years before realizing that even the dancing women were made of sand. It’s a lesson each generation must learn. The desert, like the mind, plays tricks on you. So they traveled the length of the city ignoring the children running beside their camels. The traffic jammed up along the way. The cameramen and the helicopters. When they reached the north side of Paris, it was all desert again. Ask any Bedouin about reality…. He will tell you to ignore everything you see. Believe only in the sand.

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 9

David Shumate’s first book of prose poems, HIgh Water Mark, (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004) won the 2003 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize.

This poem also appears in his second book, The Floating Bridge (University of Pittsburg Press, 2008). Click here to read Caron Andregg’s review of David Shumate’s The Floating Bridge.

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