On Draining the St Martin Canal

by David Canning

I had thought that I preferred its placid waters
that trade a Lethe forgetfulness for our reflections
in soft focus, encourage a belief in the metaphysical,
a fantasy of fish dancing beneath sun-speckled
mirrorballs to the Gauloises wheeze of an accordion;

but when they drained the St Martin Canal, what they found,
along with the remains of mangled vélibs, legless chairs,
the ribs of umbrellas stripped of their skin, a gutted safe,
incriminating pistols, eyeless cameras, mopeds mid-escape,
a ghetto blaster frozen in play, and wine bottles by the tonne,
was Truth: the truth about how the BoBos live after dark,
and that, beneath their watery veneer, they are not gods,
nor shamen of l’esprit du temps, but pigs just like us,
and I discovered that we are in love with the idea of Paris,
and that I prefer her honestly disrobed, laid bare,
because I am in awe of you, and that, having drained me
down to the muddy wreckage at my core, still
you choose to love me and the myth of me all the same.

 

 

The Canal Saint-Martin is a 2.86 mile long canal in Paris, connecting the Canal de l’Ourcq to the river Seine.