Before Satie and Renoir. Before Lautrec’s posters of the Molin Rouge. Before Picasso & Dali cut & pasted time there, Montmartre was a mere mound—a rustic butte ripe for the taking. Her sedimentary layers delighted. A Smith Island Cake of chalk, clay, limestone & marl; her natural perfume part lake, part sea.
For centuries before the Revolution miners sliced vertical shafts into her sides, windmills crushed her gypsum & ovens baked her rock bits to a fine white powder, to plaster of Paris. She was the first to fashion faux— whatever ambitious men wanted her to be— building facades, sculptural first drafts, temporary arms & legs.
The lost bourgeois boys of la belle époque were her last conquerors. Jesus beards, pink-eyed & drunk, they burrowed into her abandoned mines, into her sacred catacombs, reconstituted bone dust with gutter water, resurrecting her desire to please, then mended their fractured psyches with the mortar of her lower caste.
Maureen Kingston is an assistant editor at The Centrifugal Eye. Her poems and prose have appeared or are forthcoming in The Camel Saloon, Emerge Literary Journal, Gone Lawn, The Meadowland Review, The Mind[less] Muse, Rufous City Review, Star 82 Review, Stone Highway Review, VAYAVYA, Visceral Uterus, and Wild Orphan.
Claude Monet’s “Impression, Sunrise”, courtesy Musee Marmottan Monet, Paris.