French Markets

French Markets


The Parisian fruit vendor on Rue Cler tolerates no cherry picking,

But takes your bag and randomly shovels in the ruby morsels.

His open display pleases the passerby with a patchwork

Of ripening yellows and rouge.


Fringing the cobblestone street, other stands arouse your senses.

The smell of Epoisse whispers of salivation

From beside wheels of white Brie and blocks of orange,

While a ceramic dish of sample cheeses cannot be ignored.


The aroma of freshly baked breads begs for attention,

And shoppers stand in line before a stall,

Then emerge with a stiff baguette or plump country loaf,

Or caress the morning with a chocolate croissant.


This flakey delight floats a memory of the road to Dijon,

Where a heavenly patisserie perfected the petit-dejeuner:

Beneath the detailed sketch of a horse, created in chocolate,

Café au lait, with a tiny sweet egg nested in your spoon,


And of snacking outside the Cathedral at Chartes,

Upon treasures of the weekly Farmers Market,

Where white asparagus was stacked in mounds,

And fishwives sliced loaves of a mysterious jellied redness,


And of the Parisian café below the market on Montmarte.

Above, it had been too frantic to sit and eat,

But was perfect for watching others sit for a portrait,

Or purchase mementoes among the mass of competing artisans.


It is quieter along the Seine.

Here the stalls are spread apart,

And used booksellers quietly converse,

In synchrony with the lapping waves.



Ken Shiovitz