Notes on Brest

At last there were sunburnt
crab backs and blackened fish
bodies cast along the shoreline
pebbles. And Auguste, heedless,
impelled by the need to find it here.
We had watched the vines that scaled
the cobble wall in the courtyard grow
violet during the summer. The way
the city sky never yellowed before
the boulevard of gaslamps ignited.

We knew then where it would be
found. The café with the music box
wasn’t where— there the quiet
stained the walls like candle smoke.
Still, the alcove behind the silk
curtain. The toxic sweet of poppies,
the damp of the sea. Front windows
open, and we left at first discernable
breath. Clouds crawled above in
the dark, led by harbor lights.

At the docks. The ferry ascends,
descends, on the water’s chest.
Auguste faced away from the train
station. National flags unalive to
wind. Low hum— a steam engine
fed the sky. His head bobbed left
and right and left. We disemboweled
waste bins. The solid whiteness of
a cruise ship; the smog. Laughter
like rain— we retreated, purified.

And Auguste took us somewhere
else. A flat, the address he picked
from a wet newspaper. The absent
door handle could’ve been copper.
We occupied the single room. Soon
trolley bells reminded me. Through
the unshelved wardrobe. Into another
empty cabinet. Then we all traced
anomalies into the ash. Then we
found it in an oven without doors.


Jack Freeman is a student at Wichita State University. His work has appeared in Hinchas de Poesia, New Welsh Review, Off the Coast, and elsewhere.