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  • by Janet St. John

Art & Soul Short #16

Town square called Place aux herbes in Uzès France.Photo.SilverWainhouse.

Beneath a star-less sky, the square sparkles. In France, everything sparkles. Champagne. Perfume. A meal pops, wine glistens on one’s tongue. Words’ song-cadence, even ricochet-fast, still melodic. The winter-dead trees in the square have manmade sparkle. Wrapped in mini-lights, they draw a woman closer. She is wide awake, stomach full with rich French meal. Hours past midnight. No one about. The fountain’s water tucked away for the cold months when no one will sit beside it, no child run fingers through it, toss in a coin, break free of a mother’s hand, and dash to play in it. No couples hide behind columns, kissing. No one walks beneath the arched colonnade. No pigeons. No one gathers here to draw or smoke or share a café au lait or converse or gossip or laugh. No tables or chairs. A desolate sparkling space. Why is she here? The one who sees now, the night, the emptiness others in beds, asleep, do not see? Is she alone with a camera or mobile phone? Does she feel safe enough at this time, in this place, to be a woman alone? Or does she unhook her arm from her lover’s to take the shot, saying, Look at this. It’s beautiful. Thinking, I must remember: the limb-like sculptures of trees set against blue-black canvas. A streetlight-spotlight, she won't remember when she looks at the photograph later and sees an angel hovering there instead. Her grandmother’s spirit. Or her own, floating above to take in what cannot be seen from the ground—roofs, windows, bare tree tops, a body standing below, her own, a lover's, unpeopled streets, parked cars. She will wonder later why the perfectly placed pavers aren’t buckled under bucking tree roots, why everything complied with its state of being in one place. A harmony of nature and structure. A person, or two, witnesses the secret accord of a silent winter night.

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