Gérard de Nerval

Cole Swensen

What is the wander, what aimless shelter, what within
a very small room. Or we could call it a city. Or we could build a city

in which you could walk without a future. The habit of detour
that prefigured the dérive. Or simply the gentle persistence of walking

from friend to friend. In mid-nineteenth-century France, there was a distinct
turn in the literature of walking from the countryside to the city—“Where

was I when” became “Where am” against the night, if I moved slowly
enough, if I turned and struck. And in its stone we find. And now of stone,

we glide, and now we fall upon Apollinaire spread out in a thin layer
over the whole of Europe in a single night’s walk across Paris.

Read three more poems by Cole Swenson in the Kenyon Review Nov/Dec 2015 issue, on sale now!

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