‘Chez Marianne’ by Cliff Yates


In the next apartment the children are quieter,
soon they’ll run a bath and one of them
will lie in it, moving. She comes out
of the bathroom, her hair standing,
shaped to a point like an alien.
Are you cold? No, I’m airing the towels.
That’s a good idea, here, which
of these switches switches the light on?

Outside Chez Marianne on Rue des Rosiers
a beggar begs from a big man with loose hair
and fly undone who smiles like Tommy Cooper
then walks in the opposite direction
and suddenly, down a side road, the full moon;
the traffic’s too busy to stand here and admire it
though on the Seine it’s reflecting in the water as well,
so they have two moons to admire, not one.
Cliff Yates‘ collections include Henry’s Clock (Smith/Doorstop), winner of the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and the Poetry Business Book & Pamphlet Competition. An earlier version of this poem appeared in his most recent collection, Frank Freeman’s Dancing School (Salt). He wrote Jumpstart Poetry in the Secondary School for the Poetry Society.