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Two Americans In Paris

Two Americans In Paris (Twenty Minutes In The Louvre)
1997 Christine Lavin

Dashing up the stairs
following the signs
I don't speak the language
you lead
but I'm not far behind
The car is downstairs on the street
in twenty minutes
we must meet the driver
to take us to the airport
fly home

But you said
"You must see the Mona Lisa
before we leave this place"
running breathless through the Louvre
foolish Americans race

Down another hall
up more marble steps
I say "let's go right"
I'm wrong
we go left
another lengthy corridor
another flight of stairs
we know she's here
we're just not sure where

You say
"You must see the Mona Lisa
you must see her face"
running breathless through the Louvre
an impossible race

We run the length of
one more cavernous hall
a knot of people has gathered
round a certain painting
on that wall
you push me toward the front
of the reverent crowd
yes it's her, I know that smile
can we leave now?

But you whisper
"Look the Mona Lisa
look at that face"
but I'm thinking
of the waiting cab
and flying back home to the States

You hold me by the arm
say "count to twenty-five
don't miss this opportunity
it makes me feel alive"
but I'm looking at my watch
I'm telling you we must go
but you can't release your grip
you shake your head "No"

"Look at the Mona Lisa
stare at that face
I will do the counting for you
just stand here in place"

deux trois
quartre cinq six sept
huite neuf dix onze douze treize
quartorze quinze seize dixsept dixhuite dixneuf vingt
vingt-de-un vingt-deux vingt-trois vingt-quartre vingt-cinq

I saw the Mona Lisa
gazed upon her face
running breathless through the Louvre
two Americans race