Facebook knows my whereabouts:
It looks like you’re in the area affected
by the Paris Terror Attacks.
I am asked to check-in.
I am asked to confirm I’m safe.
It appears on the feed.
Friday night and within an hour
I’ve received sixty ‘likes’. I feel sick
at the attention, the show of concern.
Julie is safe.
Nicolas is safe.
Amy is safe.
Xavier is safe.
Ricardo is safe.
Scott is safe.
Kate is safe.
Emily is safe.
Jason has yet to confirm.
To the Netherlands to teach, I’ve no choice.
At the Gare du Nord my Thalys isn’t leaving.
10, 20, 40 minutes … and so the delay grows.
Over the loudspeaker, a woman from SNCF
appeals to the hordes of morning travellers
scattered beneath the departures board:
Mesdames, Messieurs, would you please
stand well back as the bomb disposal unit
proceeds to blow up the suspicious package.
She uses détoner. Latin gave us detonate.
We take in the bang. Await the all-clear.
Look up for a platform. Run for the train.
Pull out. Leave at speed. Miss connections.
Colder in Belgium. Time to kill. No gloves.
Light flakes are falling. Il neige sur Liège.
Brel sings quiet to me: It is broken, the cry
of hours and birds, and kids with hoops at play,
broken, the black, broken, the grey. It’s snowing,
snowing on Liège, and the river flows without a sound.
The sale of flags
to hang the red
when France won
Symbol of peace
Flags at least can
urges the nation
white and blue.
has never seen
Last time was ’98
the World Cup.
are out of ink.
stage a comeback.
On the avenue Émile Zola
two young butchers outside
below a dirty fabric canopy.
Grillades Rôtisserie Traiteur Charcuterie
They perch on high stools
side by side, behind flags
hung out like bed sheets.
Men relaxing, taking five.
They have stopped mincing
and downed their knives.
Protagonists with a habit
centre stage. They inhale,
exhale, with national pride.