Todd McCarty

Paris Scene

Une Averse-Rue Bonaparte by Frederick Childe Hassam

Even though the gray seems to forecast
endless gloom, perhaps it’s the verge
of spring and not the early end of autumn.
There is no haze of mist rising from
the carriage horses as the footmen
huddle in front of barred doors. The puddles
are serene, flecked in gray and shades
of brown with bits of white reflecting
scraps of clouds. But the fog somehow
obscures the distant row of houses and takes
on a life of its own. A trick of perspective
and given more substance than the shoppers
beneath black umbrellas shuffling impatiently
past the rumpled duo in the road.

It all coheres and somehow doesn’t. More odd than
a self-portrait or still life, for each of those are
deliberate, arranged. This scene is suspended between
allegory and dream like an old man’s nose
smashed into the picture book of his youth. All
the colors are fading or veiled except for
the umbrellas or the red scarf smeared around
his withered neck. His teeth are blunted pebbles
in his mouth hole. And as he staggers in rags
hauling a rickety cart, that girl seems more apparition
than actual companion or daughter. Only an afterthought
like the rain that stubbornly refuses to come. It is longing,
pure and simple, an illusion of distance.


About the writer:
Todd McCarty holds an MFA in Creative Writing Poetry from Columbia College Chicago, and his poems have appeared in The Summerset Review, Masque & Spectacle, Verse Daily, and other journals. He is a social worker in Chicago, where he combines poetry and group therapy to support people in substance use recovery.

Image: Une Averse—Rue Bonaparte by Frederick Childe Hassam (1859-1935). Oil on canvas. 40.3 x 77.4 inches. 1887. Public domain.