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I tried to read Simenon in my twenties, when I was living in Heidelberg. I believe I even started reading The Carter of ‘La Providence’ in French at some point, but I laid the book aside after a few chapters. Like the other Maigret stories I had attempted, I found it unbearably dismal and consequently quite unreadable.

Tuesday Poem: Hospital

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Among the many roads we have to travel in this life,
Nothing prepares us for this:
The one we will one day travel every Sunday afternoon –
Or every Saturday afternoon,
Or even every evening –

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I am walking on cobblestones
The colour of mackerel skin,
Past houses painted
Watermelon pink
And caramel yellow,
Beneath trees the colour of dried parsley
And churches the colour of clifftops.
Balconies of port red and cedar green
Project from art nouveau façades
The colour of grilled sardine flesh,
The colour of salted almonds,
The colour of the weather –
All the weather of the river,
All the weather of the sea.
Here and there a Delft blue
Cries out from the seventeenth century,
Here and there a circling gull
Cries out from an infinitely old new world.

By Jonathan Steffen

First published in ‘The Colour of Love’, Acumen Publications 2011.

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