Victoria Benefield

when i was nine i dreamed of paris
streets like jagged jackknife nicks on pine
and the seine, like the stream down my driveway
from the sprinklers to the gutter
RATS, my grandma said, paris is dirty
and full of rats you wouldn’t like it there
maybe i didn’t like rats but i sure liked
fleurs-de-lis (patterned curtains) and the eiffel tower
(piggy bank on my bookshelf, with two nickels and a creased franc)
my great aunt gave me a paris notebook the size of my palm
and the first thing i wrote in it was
nothing, because i was always afraid to spoil
a clean page with my schemes
not dreams of a young girl’s trip to paris

count the coins in the eiffel tower and they add up to
a road trip up the pacific coast to redwoods
if you look up squint then close your eyes
it’s basically like a million eiffel towers with
the added charm of hot dog fumes bug bites
and the gentle strains of tim mcgraw
there isn’t even a rat in sight

imagine my surprise when given the choice
i land in sun-soaked, wine-steeped firenze
playing marbles on unpuddled, unironed streets
and watching them circle in inky arched imprints
sunk by names of one too many gods
i only think of towers once, on that godforsaken
train trip in search of a decent waffle
when i watch the seine shatter the sun into a
million and one pieces all stuck
to the eiffel tower and i, always the magnet,
think to transcend space and time and bullet trains
just to nibble crumbs at the foot of the eiffel
tower and tourist towering over me
did you ever dream of paris? i scream
and close the blind determined more than ever
to never set foot on the streets of paris

Victoria Benefield is a sophomore studying journalism, history, and film and media studies. She did, in fact, watch and thoroughly enjoy Emily in Paris.