Mme. Blanchard hits the roof
by Ian C Smith


Paris by night, a sight to die for.
To reach for the sky is the French tradition,
so, too, looking down on people.
She looks good in that Regency style,
diminutive, décolletage cinched above a high waist,
dressed to kill, you could say, or to be killed.
She is the queen of fireworks, pity about hydrogen.

In the Tivoli Gardens the bandstand rocks,
warm air above lit by her Bengal lights.
A magical rain showers the sky silver and gold
from parachute bombs she lights with a long taper,
thrills revelers whose murmur drifts up to her
floating inadvertently close to a sparkling heaven,
a suitable distance from her terror of crowds.

Riding her gondola, a skimpy thing like herself,
she sees her balloon ablaze, begins her descent,
feathered hat lost, a rushed farewell performance.
The house roof’s pitch steep, her rigging tangled,
fire almost out, burned, broken, she can’t hang on,
she who once remained aloft all night over Rome.
It’s me. Help! Sophie gasps, then the cobbles.

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