Friday, February 17, 2023


The Armory at One's Feet

In Palestine and Paris, the paving stones pled their innocence.  They were, after all, constructive, until they were picked apart by zealots.

In the former case, the deconstruction was halted, but only for a few seconds.  Someone, a tall man, cried out from the crowd "Let he who is without sin ..!," but another, louder voice interrupted, proclaiming a wry "Nice try!"  The poor girl squirmed and cringed; as Lee Harvey Oswald in the photo much later, she cringed in vain.

The grievances of the soixante-huitiemes were more diffuse, but their indignation was not.  First the barricades, built of cafe chairs and tables, trash receptacles, overturned hand carts.  Then the rain of stones on the helmets and shields of the gendarmerie, interspersed with Cointreau cocktails and at least one spear, improvised from a sharpened broom handle, dipped in tar and set alight.

Fifty-five years later, some still remain among us.  In two of the shabbiest of the inner arrondissements, their voices, both higher and hoarser than before, seem to my tin ear to say, with passion, "Defense de fumer!" It rings from the tenement walls and even, on the rebound, against the paving stones.

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