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LAce Posted Monday, December 13th, 2004
Warsaw
Myfanwy Collins

They went to Cimetière du Père Lachaise not for anything so bourgeois as finding Jim Morrison’s tragic, vodka-soaked, vomit-smeared grave; rather they went for Chopin—to find Chopin’s grave.

They thought of him in Paris. With George Sand, in love or whatever it was they were in. And then he died. So, so tragic. Oh so very, very sad.

So they went there to find his body, not his heart. For his heart was not there. His heart was in Warsaw, as was his wish—that it be interred there.

They went to find his grave sans heart.

#

She remembered it as a Sunday afternoon, in late fall, cool, gray. He remembered only that they were in search of the grave of the man he loved, for he was the pianist and she was not. She knew music as one who listens, knows music, not as one who plays, knows music. He felt her love superficial, not deep and knowing as was his.

They were to leave the city the next day and after five days of his asking, they had still not found Chopin. Today was the day and she knew it, yet she lingered over her Beaujolais at a café in Montmartre and as she lingered, he felt his heart fly off to Warsaw.

So there was a fight and wine soaked tears and one storming off and one running after. Oh, it could not have been scripted better, really! They were in that moment just so tragic, so American, so cliched! And yet so right for a late fall afternoon in Paris. So, so right!

Sadly, no one noticed them but for the other Americans who tsk-tsked. Irritated by the clicking tongues, he wondered why were the other Americans there at all? It was Thanksgiving time and they were supposed to be home shopping for Christmas and cooking pink-skinned turkeys. Why had they ruined this Chopin lover’s trip by being there? Why?

Then she noticed the clicking of these would be, should be, turkey-stuffing folk and so the fight wound down softly in the comfort of mutual disdain.

They took a bus, or the metro or a taxi, maybe, and made their way to Père Lachaise.

#

It had started to rain. There was a map to be had, but it was confusing. So much so that she felt dizzy, from the rain and the wine and the trip in general. Her feet were tired and she wanted to go back to their dingy hotel and have a nap before dinner, but he was undeterred—this was the last day; they would find Chopin.

There was no one to ask and so they kept looking until they located the spot. Could it really be? Could this bit of ground covered in corrugated tin really be where HIS body was buried? As best they could tell, the sign said that it was in the midst of being renovated or something of the sort and so it was protected in this way. By tin, rusting.

She wasn’t sure but she thought he might cry or weep even at the sight of it as he dropped to his haunches. But instead he laughed and she knelt beside him and they both laughed together as the rain pelted the tin, plunking and plunking until they were nearly deaf.

Comments [post a comment]

Posted by Miriam Kotzin on Monday, December 13th, 2004 at 9:49 PM
Beautiful, Myfanwy. "Turkey-stuffing folk"! The ending is beautiful, the sound of the rain on the tin-- another version of the clucking turkey-stuffers.

Posted by Russell Bittner on Monday, December 13th, 2004 at 9:59 PM
Myfanwy, Mordant. Also evocative. And so I appreciate being taken back to that place of Heloise and Abelard and so many others. "They went to find his grave sans heart" is good. But wouldn't "They went to find his accent grave; his accent aigu was still -- and would always be -- in Warsaw" be an improvement? And although I acknowledge that this is not the place for nits, "She knew music as one who listens, knows music, not as one who plays, knows music" strikes me as having two commas too many -- namely, after "listens" and "plays." 'Nice to see you here.

Posted by Katrina Denza on Tuesday, December 14th, 2004 at 6:45 AM
Myfanwy, this is gorgeous! You really nailed it with the end image.

Posted by Ellen Meister [ ellenmeister@hotmail.com ] on Tuesday, December 14th, 2004 at 8:03 AM
This is glorious! The language and story blend together in perfect harmony. Exquisite work, Myf!

Posted by Robin Slick [ Robin81700@aol.com ] on Tuesday, December 14th, 2004 at 8:35 AM
Myfanwy, this is beautiful. Your writing is so unique, so poetic it makes my soul rise.

Posted by Katie Weekley on Tuesday, December 14th, 2004 at 12:47 PM
Myf, this is, as usual, stunning.

Posted by Kathy Fish on Monday, December 27th, 2004 at 10:28 AM
What a perfect story, Myfanwy. This story has everything. Beautiful...

Posted by sue miller [ zzinnia@gmail.com ] on Monday, December 27th, 2004 at 11:00 AM
Myfanwy, Another wonderful story. I especially loved this line: So there was a fight and wine soaked tears and one storming off and one running after. Thanks for a good read, z

Posted by Sabena Stark on Tuesday, December 28th, 2004 at 8:05 AM
I love the aural depiction of Chopin playing the rain on his tin-covered grave, the couple laughing, on their knees, in submission to the absurdity of life. This piece has all the emotions of a Chopin prelude or mazurka!



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