Alysa Salzberg

Alysa Salzberg
Location
Paris, France
Birthday
December 31
Title
Writer, copy editor, translator, travel planner. Head servant to my cat.
Company
www.alysasalzberg.com
Bio
A reader, a writer, a fingernail biter, a cat person, a traveller, a cookie inhaler, an immigrant, a dreamer. …And now, self-employed! If you like my blog and if you're looking for sparkling writing, painstaking proofreading, nimble French-English translation, or personalized travel planning, feel free to check out www.alysasalzberg.com.

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MARCH 6, 2011 6:01PM

Tidying

Rate: 41 Flag

 

Newly returned from the country,

while you sleep I will remove everything from your bags,

untangle strands of hay from your shoe-soles,

take up your clothes to wash.

Smells come to me, escaping from their wrinkles like birds to the air:

fire, grasses, cold earth.

For a few seconds I inhale grand spaces

and find myself in a starlit field, alone with silence and wind

I am drawn to the scene’s primitive familiarity,

even as I curl my nose

and nearly whinny,

as I imagine stable horses must do when they first encounter

the smells of the city

(fuel and heat, perfume and cigarettes, the inimitable aroma of metro trains).

I plunge your clothes into water, add vinegar and scented soap

killing those confounding country fumes.

Tomorrow when you wake,

there will be no hay blades in your shoes,

no fire-smoke in the wool of your socks.

You will put on your smart black suit,

and be a city man again, and go to work.

 

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If only every soldier returning from the Campaigns of Napoleon had such wonderful poems to come home to! Vive l'Empereur!
This is so sweet, but not too. This is rich in sweetness, Alysa. Knowing the background, the context, adds a dimension, too.

Your little poem was better than a cocktail at cocktail hour here.
Damn, tuxedo T shirts!
You darling woman...he's a lucky man to have you. : )
(I love those country smells! ...not sure about musket fire smells or anything...)
I feel chastised to read this while I ignore all the laundry around here waiting. Off I go...
Honey, I'm home...:)
Glad he got home in one piece and that you write this. Great piece to comem right after your EP on Friday.
rated with hugs
absolutely can picture this
A task done with love, the very best. Sweet poem.
Ah, the voice of true love. . . I hope you inhaled him deeply before he went to sleep - weary.
♥R
Very romantic and very poetic. Now you got me smelling things that are so far away and yet so close. Whateva! I loved this a lot, Alysa. Rwoo5g said it better.
So...did he win? Oh, I guess in these re-enactments the outcome is pre-determined...

Nice piece.
I guess you are like the French wives who awaited Napoleon's troops returning. Nice.
Thanks for reading everyone. You're right: my boyfriend returned a few hours ago. I posted an update on his condition, and how the reenactment turned out, in the comments section of my previous post about his waistcoat.

As I was putting his things away (a mixture of love and OCD), I was once again reminded of one of the enduring conflicts in our life together: I'm a city mouse and always will be, and he often feels the lure of the countryside, and often grumbles that he wishes I didn't love living in Paris so much. It makes me feel bad, even though his brother told me (unsolicited) that he thinks my boyfriend is in the perfect place, and I personally see that he has a lot going on here and a lot to be happy about. As I washed his things tonight, I couldn't help but feel it was like I was erasing all evidence of the countryside, all means for it to infiltrate our apartment. And I'm not so sure how I feel about that....
French wives waited? Surely not alone.
Washing away the country and returning to a smart black suit. Nice use of contrast in this poem.
A charming piece on the beauty of domesticity. I loved this.
You wrote about a soldier's clothes with confounding country fumes but the uniform is with sweet alliteration. You really work your literary devices, dear.
"uniform is sweet with alliteration. . ." sheesh. sorry.
Obsessive tidiers hate the past because there were...
mistakes...there.
Gotta be perfect.
Good front, stiff upper lip & all.

The past will never stop coming at us from the wrinkles of timespace.
Smell, draw it in...it will be sour...
bring you to places you don't wanna
but gotta
be.

If you are to have sanity.
And yes, once this jolly trek down memory's lane is done,
make it clean and good
and right
again.
Obsessive tidiers hate the past because there were...
mistakes...there.
Gotta be perfect.
Good front, stiff upper lip & all.

The past will never stop coming at us from the wrinkles of timespace.
Smell, draw it in...it will be sour...
bring you to places you don't wanna
but gotta
be.

If you are to have sanity.
And yes, once this jolly trek down memory's lane is done,
make it clean and good
and right
again.
I loved this. I'm sure that if you love him like I suspect you do, you'll go to the country sometimes. It can be quite a romantic place to visit. -R-
Oh, this made me smile, Alysa. Just right.~r
You move so effortlessly between prose and poetry. I loved this!
What man wouldn't want to hurry up and kick the Prussians even though he was facing poor odds, just to return home to a woman such as yourself?
Better to make doing the laundry beautiful poetry than to view it as a chore! Did he have to ride a horse in this re-enactment?

Lezlie
vivid images here. Can almost smell it.
Methinks the boyfriend got a little dirty at the re-enactment this weekend.
each man holds a different heaven.

good read.
I only just now read your Re-enactment piece. The poem worked for me even without that.
"For a few seconds I inhale grand spaces
and find myself in a starlit field, alone with silence and wind"

Painting visions with smells of the wild! Sweet.
Alysa, a wonderfully written contrast between two worlds!
Splendiferous my dear...such tender sentiments. Brava!
Ah, this was sweet. He is a very lucky man!
Your boyfriend is blessed to have a woman who loves and understands him the way you do. I hope you had a wonderful reunion.
A lovely celebration of homecoming.
I just hope he's realized warm beds and solid walls are a pretty good deal. Not to mention a kind girl friend to pick the straw out of his shoes and wash his clothes.

I won't worry unless you hear him start muttering "Moscow...." and thrusting one hand into the front of his shirt. If he does, remind him that the Russian winter was the bane of both Bonaparte AND Hitler. =o)

rated
This is so fine...I can smell this...I know this place and I know the grace of doing laundry...xox
Not easy making poetry of dirty laundry!