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June. On Paris streets, light stays all evening. Magenta chimneys are stuck to rooftops like birthday candles waiting to be lit. I gaze through open windows, an intruder

of the imagination, to a kitchen of copper pans, and a crowded table with cut roses, the garlic smell of cassoulet, and talk of taxes, guns, the president,

diners all at once in a conversation like a chorale. Few words are clear. A woman in blue silk, sherry hair swept into a chignon, starts a sentence

that dies in air. I watch her freeze with failure to be heard. Suddenly, I know this woman I have never met and I know the place where whinnies in italics

pummel like hail, where syllables rise and crash like ocean waves, drowning the single voice. Silence now. They wait for another chorus. The woman frowns, pushing her plate aside.

But look, an empty chair. I rise to sit there, ladle beans, and listen to her. No, I cannot. I’m here, not there. Outside the glass. Invisible. A rambler on the rue du Bac. With hours

of light ahead, I turn and wander off under the linden trees, myself again, restoring the self I’d lost. I greet a stranger, and hear my own voice coming through unblurred.

The corner café, often dimly lit, is brighter now, the avenue is wider with many more high windows to look into before I walk the bridge across the Seine.