April In Paris

We set out in two groups,
Three of us from Manchester,
two from Sheffield,
hitching our way to Paris
in the spring.
Sometimes we would see the others
by the roadside
and we would wave animatedly
to make sure the driver understood,
in case more of us could be squeezed in.
It usually worked and
we arrived
in Paris all

We found the recommended hostel near Laumiere,
but were a little disconcerted to be
met with a closed door
covered in signs which read
‘FULL’ in every known language.
But we went in anyway.
‘Of course we’re not full
at this early hour’, we were told.
‘Anyway, no one is ever turned away’.
They were planning a demonstration,
a rehearsal for May 1968,
but of course,
none of us knew that then.
We could join if we wished,
but of course,
we were too early,
even for the rehearsal.
It was only April.
Just three days
in April
in Paris.

Later, we did our best to be helpful.
Yes, that was us who, with wide eyed innocence
and impressively bad French
Failed to understand the policemen’s demands,
‘Vos papiers, s’il vous plait, vos papiers!’
until our new friends with the nice smiles
and no papers had disappeared.
‘Vos papiers, s’il vous plait, vos papiers!’
No chance. We would sleep easy in our beds.

We got up early (too cold to sleep),
and cleaned the kitchen and the floor of the hostel
for the first time in many years.
Then we sat on the stairs and said ‘No Pasaran’ to everyone,
until it had dried,
explaining carefully in languages we did not speak,
why this was necessary.

It was a long three days our April in Paris.
It felt like it lasted for ever.

First published in Ramingo Porch, Issue 2 2018https://



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