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Travelogue D5

April 15, 2015

As my time in the museum continued, my pace quickened, and the final sights whipped by. I paused for all of a minute to examine a François Gérard painting of an exhausted poet before which Chateaubriand often read to an audience in Mme Récamier’s rooms at Abbaye-aux-Bois, now demolished. Signage drew my attention to an old dome capping a stairwell, a dome in which one could still make out the distinctive lines of the former opening bounded by handrail. From a quick read, I gathered that an architect had later deemed the opening unseemly and filled it with cut-stone and mortar, leaving only a sizeable oil lamp at its peak for illumination.

In the final rooms, a discolored vein of marble merited a minute of its own at the statue’s expense, though I failed to note the sculptor behind the boy pulling a thorn from his foot. Only later did I recall the prominence of such a sculpture in Kleist’s writings on the marionette theater, the boy full of grace, emptied of consciousness. With that, I escaped into the rain. The Romantics, who have followed me much in recent years, did not think it fit to pursue any further that day.

I spent the final hours of the second day in a hotel bar overlooking the Rhône, not far from where I had lost a heel the day before. Drink in hand and with smoky mouth, I talked and took in the buildings opposite. For the governmental offices, the city and region had settled on blue for the nighttime illumination if for no other reason that it contrasted well with the orange sodium lighting common to most Western cities. Closer to the banks, the reflected light cloaked white lookout towers, thin stems topped with flat saucers. Although the city had presumably raised them for tourists, I was unable to identify any means of access apart from the slight gauge of a steel ladder. I moved to a seat farther from the plate glass to finish my drink. In some minutes, I found myself again in the Metro and the quiet of residential streets.

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