Thursday, 4 September 2014

Paris Latin Quarter - Femi Osofisan

Sweet Marie-Anne, she thought
Being French, intellectual and brunette

Entitled her, in any Parisian cafe
To prompt service—and she was

Probably right, (as the Policeman
Later confirmed)—always provided

The situation was normal, and
She herself did not let the race down.

So that afternoon, she said to me:
“Sit by me, mon cheri, and order

A drink!”—Well! The waiter came
As was his duty, only to stand aghast

At the unspeakable scandal of a
Full-blooded French woman kissing

This merde of a black man openly and
Full on the lips!—Purebred son of

The Galls, his first impulse
Was to smash his tray at the black head

And shriek out for help to the army of riot
Police permanently stationed on the streets

Of the Latin Quarter . . . —But
He was a non-violent man, and besides,

He had the customer’s tip to think of.
So he turned to me, swallowing hard, and

With controlled French politeness, he said:
M’sieur, please sit OPPOSITE the lady—

“Yes, with the sacre table between you, face
To face—Or mon cul, dammit, I shall

Not serve you!”—And I was still wiping off
Her lipstick, wondering what to do, when my lady

Spoke, her face red with indignation: “But
You’re mistaken! This one’s not like the rest,

“Can’t you see! He’s a bon sauvage, and has
Written such brilliant essays in impeccable French

“On the phallus of—pardon, the merits of Negritude!
Show him my dear!” she turned to me, “Show how well

“You quote Molière, Corneille, and—” But the waiter
Was already smiling and bowing: I had passed my test.

Femi Osofisan (born 1946) Nigeria

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