Tuileries, April 1968

Early rays of spring blade the grass, trace the faint scars of the Religious Wars on the old ramparts, glance the new bronze nudes convened by the Ministry of Culture.

All is bright and fine but something has been removed, W. H. Auden suspects, some tinge of laughter. Did he remember a puppet theatre here? Or in another garden, another city? He sits, breathes slowly, considers the decorated moat between poetry and being. He does not scribble in his little notebook.

Mothman slouches in his heavy overcoat. He sees the fellow with the notebook. They always make up stories. How mighty are the flaps from the east as they clash against the west! Those eyes that glow like nuclear spheres! Legends born of cathode ray fever dreams. It was true that he had been at the Ordnance Works. The later sightings were figments. The slander of the Silver Bridge was the final indignity.

He watches and wonders what has remained unwritten.

Later as the sun coppers and the tops of the trees insinuate in the wind, these two flâneurs of the greened terraces meet at the ledge of the octagonal basin.

“You are not a newsman, then,” one ventures.

“Not as such.”

“Tell the truth?”

“I do try.”

They gaze over the still pool for a moment.

“But, you see, there is always a temptation to hold onto the truth for yourself. It is a matter of pride. You might hold onto it so long it loses all possible significance. But that is the way of all the earthly vices. You hoard and you hoard until it is all worthless. As a bearer of truth, to maintain your ethical dominion you must relinquish it.”

“So you must have words.”

“Yes. The right words. And so you loll on the bank of the epistemic waters, knowing that the expression will never be exact, but worrying at it anyhow, until this truth that was at first so compressed, so luminous, is plied into all these droll little figurations. Some verse, perhaps.”

“But not the truth.”

O statue of my pages, the poet would later write. Creature gliding overhead. Ascend quietly.

Evan D. Williams’s writing has appeared in over forty publications, including Borderlands, Mud Season Review, Sweet Tree Review, COAST|noCOAST, and The Martian Chronicle. His debut collection, Dear Excavator, was published by April Gloaming in 2021. He resides in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains with his wife and cats.