The je ne sais quoi of it

It’s almost a kaleidoscoped dream: that year
lazing on the brasserie terrace, breathing after
his Gauloise, Pascal Obispo on the headphones.

But one word; say oui, a non, maybe a peut-être,
and I’m back in Prévert’s Déjeuner du Matin,
replayed slowly in monochrome footage.

His lips on the rim of my white expresso cup;
his long fingers stirring; the black
of his coated back, leaving; the silence afterwards –

a scene that certain intonations still invoke now,
just as the p, b, m of his voice nuzzle
into my sleep, no matter how hard I try to keep

the hiss of fricatives memorised in the mouth,
to push that tongue from the back of my throat.

Sarah James first published in britmag 50, Jan/Feb 2012