Why have gaslight in an electric age?
Why feel the need to be transported
Back to a time none of us remembers,
So far removed it has turned cliché,
A time rustic and quaint, time
Flattening difference into utopia?
A Parisian café longed for
By a man who never left the States.
Narrow streets, full cafes, buildings
Centuries old. Or,
So he’s heard. A romantic place
Of Hemingways and Fitzgeralds, everything
An off-focus impression.
At night, lamplight, neon
Goes unseen. A myth
To be sure – uncommon, but
Not unseen. Waiters seat
Single customers with others –
Discussions, wine, and bread until
Gas-lit flame replaces day,
Flickering faces orange, the deep
Shadows drawing wisdom out
Of every café face.
A woman, in short shirt –
A navel, orange in the lamplight –
Draws the eye to new shadows unseen
In a clean electric-light place.