Paris Syndrome (n.) a psychological condition experienced almost exclusively by Japanese tourists and to a lesser extent, Chinese tourists, who are disappointed when the city of lights does not live up to their romantic expectations. The syndrome, considered an extreme case of culture shock, causes symptoms such as an acute delusional state, hallucinations, anxiety, dizziness, and sweating. Single women travelers are most afflicted by this disease.
June was a parade of Chinese brides,
their trains spilling into the gardens.
Blooming gloom, purple sepals—
sweat crowned their frowns, wet diadems
of dread. Hems, rough hedges—their heads
groomed doll-like for their grooms to glower at.
June smelled like perfume
and piss. Chewing stale bread
on the bridges, I tossed my misgivings
into the river. How I loved the marble
women in the Tuileries, their inconsolable
weight. To be a monument, stone-carved,
to sorrow. I wandered in search of my own pulse
between the Monet panels
in the l’Orangerie.
In an airless apartment room on the Rue Eugène
in the sixteenth Arrondisement,
I wrote letters never sent
to friends long gone. The paper dead
weight in my suitcase. I didn’t talk to anyone.
Disconsolation prize: a meal, wet innards.
A patisserie of one heart pickled
in many jars.
The inability to access the joy you stored in a safe
to open when the time comes,
when you’re somewhere else.
The joy you hoped
for in a beautiful country.
Before you could go, you imagined it.
The possibilities. Wet cornices.
It was this longing,
that made you feel like you could live again.
To burn is to burnish a dead kingdom
with fine lighting.
Lightning in the sky each night,
clawing out the sordid eyes
that watch and watch you as you sleep.
I don’t know how my mother pictured it. A frame
for her bones. A house big enough to contain
the past. But no, she never found one.
The studio we rented
so I could go to school in that district.
And that makes two regrets.
Before we arrived in the beautiful
country, I imagined a house
with walls made of silk.
I imagined a stranger could come up to our door
and whisper a secret through its seams.