Niamh McNally – Thoughts Through Paris: In Four Parts

Niamh McNally is an Irish poet from Belfast. She completed her Master’s in creative writing at Ulster University whilst co-creating and editing, The Paperclip; a student-led publication. Niamh has been published in The Tulsa Review, Capsule Stories, Tir na nOg and recently, Niamh and her poetry featured on the BBC and in a human rights/climate change film. Just last year, Niamh’s poetry was used by Bushmills for a new whiskey in The Causeway Collection.

Thoughts Through Paris: In Four Parts

  1. Un

New roads entwine interstate concrete
this far out

a language I don’t understand on graffiti
in District 18

words take preference on
the bleak slabs

February’s icy bite reminds
me more of La Haine. Hate.

Not Audrey’s bohemian polar neck
nor Gene’s American taps on cobbles
or Jean- Luc Godard’s fedoras in smoky cafés 

the traffic outside weaves like metallic branches
stretching inward toward sandstone walls

we will arrive to ghostly streets lit
by clean, unspluttering lampshades

of swirling memories in blue
and yellow printed on bookbags

no madmen with geraniums or
flappers hanging champagne from a Rolls Royce

maybe the METRO will be as apparitional as I’ve read
or Café du Neant as deadly?

  1. Deux

A woman looks to be having a bad nosebleed
in this twenties painting

a black cat looks up at the night sky
by her right leg

Chat Noir and Moulin Rouge
postcards line the Seine.
Crème Brûlées. Espressos
with a small glass of water.

A silver ring bought
near Artist’s Square
we sit amongst pigeons
with Bordeaux and brie
at the foot of the Sacré-Cœur.

My new ring has small
snail-shell swirls
it resembles the city
rolling inward on itself.

Wrapped around my index finger
standing in Montmartre.

Hers has dark grey flowers.

  1. Trois

I only realized when walking:

Those living in a modern flat
at 27 Rue de Fleures
may not know of Stein’s Salon.

Or how the false Vagabond
was Mina Loy’s
lampshade shop.

There’s a gummy bear
on Beckett’s gravestone.

Half of Dali’s moustache is ripped off a museum poster.

  1. Quatre

It wasn’t what I expected because of Her.

Dark curls embarrassed Notre- Dame’s splendour,
As Quasimodo leant from gargoyles to peak.
I forgot we walked along the Champs-Elysée,
Even Esmerelda peered at those porcelain cheeks.

Saint Genevieve is ashamed of the Pantheon being built,
The Seine blushes when gushing past Her gaze,
Thinking it made an impression on Claude Monet,
When Her stride conjures the same tranquil haze.

Nothing in waxy, candle-lit windows compared
To every spark that danced in Her,
She could walk through the streets of Montpellier,
And sculpted fountains would reconsider significance there.

La quadrireme pensée. The fourth thought. The reason I could not write.
When absorbing Her, one comprehends beauty through insight.
The Arc de Triomphe was assembled with simple bricks and mortar,
The Musee du Louvre was sculped by glass panels, and nothing more.

It is the art inside we love and can only experience after.





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