Just Numbers

Despertar 1
By Mathieu Cailler

When it’s noon here in Long Beach
it’s nine at night where
you are. People are home
from work, offices closed,
the sun on to its next shift.

Customers sit and eat
along Le Cours Mirabeau
in wicker chairs at
Le Grillon and Les Deux Garçons.

When I think hard enough, I can
picture the moules frites—each moule
bathing in garlic, white wine, and
parsley. Some maybe a little too shy
for their shells to open.

You’re wearing your turquoise blouse,
buttoned only to its equator, and your orange
purse is draped on your bespeckled

Bonsoir, you say to passersby.
Bonsoir, you say, navigating
the gaunt cobblestone streets.

In bed, I read Prévert, sometimes Gide,
occasionally Pagnol.
It’s morning where you are,
and I picture the soft sun
slicing through your flaking shutters,
church bells clanging in the distance,
and your manicured feet on red
kitchen tiles.

With you there and me here, it’s like
we’re never asleep, like we’re cut in half,
like we’re sedentary time-travelers. It’s all
numbers, you say, c’est juste des chiffres.
And I agree—
Nine hours,
Six-thousand miles, thirty-four more days,
Two of us.


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