Gautier
Christmas Eve in Paris
by Lourdes A. Gautier

A cold wind whips through the air and finds its way into my bones
through miniscule openings in a jacket, quilted, black and designed
to keep the wearer warm without too much weight.

My first winter in Paris, your first visit, and I want everything to be perfect
a trip to remember fondly, how you walked with your mother through
streets full of history, charm and a certain je ne sais quoi.

There are hours to fill till midnight mass at Notre Dame.
We fill them with long walks and a trip to Père Lachaise, a cemetery
where the famous and infamous have found their last resting place.

We decide to look for Jim Morrison’s grave but everything is so
overgrown that even the legend at the entrance can’t lead us to it.
Instead we stumble around past cracked crypts and headstones.

Balzac, Bizet, Proust, Oscar Wilde and Piaf along with names
unfamiliar to us, the musicians, statesmen, painters and aristocrats
whose families lease out their gravesite for fifty, thirty or ten years.

If I’d known to look, I would have searched for Richard Wright’s tomb or
Sarah Bernhardt’s but we were intent on finding Jim as the already
overcast day began to shift towards night, and dark and cemetery      frightened me.

A woman and two men dressed in the uniform of the young, all black,
slouchy boots, she with pale skin, eyes ringed with dark shadow and      all three
with hair flowing around shoulders, caught our attention.

We rightfully guessed that they would be making a pilgrimage
to Morrison’s tomb so we followed at a distance that wouldn’t
label us as stalkers and they and the scent of pot led us to the spot we      wanted.

After numerous trips to Paris I’d finally made it to Père Lachaise and a
visit to Jim Morrison’s grave with my twenty-something son
who would have preferred to be doing this with anyone else.

PHOTO: Jim Morrison’s gravesite complete with candles and flowers, December 24, 2007.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: A few years ago, I decided to do something different for Christmas. I’d been to Paris in every season except for winter, so it seemed like a good idea to take my youngest son while I visited friends and experience Paris during the holidays.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lourdes A. Gautier is a poet and writer of short fiction and nonfiction. Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and raised in New York City, she earned a Masters degree in Theatre and post graduate credits in a doctoral program at the City University of New York (CUNY) focusing on Latin American Theatre. She taught courses in acting and theatre history and criticism at CUNY, Drew University, and Jersey City State University and language arts in a special grant funded program at Rutgers University. Most recently, her short story, “1952,” was published in the May issue of Acentos Review. Her poems have appeared in the Silver Birch Press All About My Name and My Perfect Vacation series and in Calliope Magazine. Currently an administrator at Columbia University, she is working on a collection of poems and stories.