The following appeared in the Feb. 8, 2024 print edition of the newspaper:
This week, we feature the talents of poet Madeleine French:
As we reached Tompkins Avenue, a Dave Brubeck tune tinkled from a restaurant,
while a little further down a breeze unfurled yellow, orange and blue
embroidered skirts on the sidewalk outside a vintage shop.
Our restaurant patio shone with subdued light through an opaque white roof.
Even the butter lettuce gave a side eye to our muted words, as if it could tell
a melancholy errand brought us here. And our smiles might have been
a little stilted, until the gelato melted in our mouths and made them real.
Home now, I’m not summoning up the charming little bookstore,
with its colorful titles lined up on shelves and tables.
(New and used together, just as you’d have arranged them)
Or remembering the bass beat blasting from a block party’s speakers
as we walked by, vibrating with the breath in my chest.
I’m not picturing the toddler in pink tulle, holding her daddy’s hand,
reflecting the uncertainty of each hesitant step in her comical frown—
exactly as you once did.
Instead, I’m thinking of the shimmering quartz you parked on
your new white windowsill, just until you find the right place for it,
sparkling silvery diamond white next to your African violet.
Something beautiful in you might just be breaking open, too.
“On Brooklyn Bridge”
Look at us, dressed for two different days
as if we’d watched dueling forecasts
I’m in a quilted jacket with jeans
while your flannel shirt
flaps in the breeze
over your tee and shorts
Puffy clouds cover the sky
like some preschooler went rogue
with the Elmer’s and cotton balls
Whatever, it all works
—even if no one can make you as mad
as I can—
Just keep walking over these wooden slats
as the bridge slopes toward South Street
the dark river glittering in the gaps
where the sun pokes its fingers
“Your Heart, Across Prospect Park”
crackled over Sarasota Bay,
I met six-thirty
from the wrong side.
In this dreamlight, I see you
your sidewalk’s crusted slush
you’ve just set off
black hood bobbing)
your battered heart
across Prospect Park.
it’s a matter of timing
that’s all—right now, it’s
neither wrong, nor right
Seventh, wrinkling your nose
at exhaust fumes
you’ll lift your eyes
when my rosy clouds paint
a movie, as a new dawn
slaps your cheek:
“Snap out of it!”
you’ll see it’s day breaking,
flushed and undone
Madeleine French lives in Florida and Virginia with her husband. A Best of the Net nominee, her work appears in ONE ART, Dust Poetry Magazine, West Trade Review, Roi Faineant Press, Door Is A Jar, and elsewhere. She is working on a full-length poetry collection.