Mr. Soulié made pommes frites twice a day
in a kitchen full of books that overtook his flat
gathered on tables shelves and dressers
on fine furniture with pearly inlay
My brother was friendly with the literary gentleman
who confided he’d written a famous book
for a well-known West African writer
Then adopted a son
Kelefa Keita who came from Conakry Guinea
with a whole collection of African art
masks and gourds and staffs and wooden sculptures
ornate with bone and shells
You need to clean these things they give you asthma
all that dust old books yellowed paper remonstrated
my unimpressed mother who rang his bell
for conversation on her way up to our flat
But Monsieur Soulié laughed wide mouthed and ah ah ah
until he choked three full minutes and laboriously began
breathing again while my mother fretted – Didn’t I tell you? –
And then he recovered and began ah ah ah again
To find more poetry by Liliane Richman on this blog, click HERE.
I love it: a perfectly created miniature world!
Reblogged this on The poetry:prose/prose:poetry converter and commented:
The 2015 International Poetry Month is now underway on Bonnie McClellan’s blog. This, on Day 3, is today’s posting – to be followed each day by a different writer from a variety of countries (my offering to be included). The Month makes interesting reading each year; I recommend it.
What a wonderful poem. May you breathe in the dust of old books until wisdom suffuses the atmosphere and makes the world’s masks dance with their African eyes.
Beautiful, evocative work. The broken laughter is as much an artifact of the past as the old books and African masks.
I can hear that rich, wheezing laughter echoing down the narrow hall!
Mr. Soulié seems like a man of irrepressible good cheer. A strong and sturdy pillar, so to speak.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose….