The Smuggs Chronicle, Part Eight

stories about old memories


Eighth Day: August 25, 2013


We cross the same suspension bridge Mira and I alone crossed 14 years ago.

Signs for downtown lead us to the bustling streets of the city’s modern commercial center. We locate a garage in the university district.

Soon, we stroll past geyser fountains along a pedestrian walkway. Children run in and out of the streams.

St. Lawrence River
these sunbathed sidewalks and
French street signs

We walk down a cobblestone pedestrian mall on Rue St. Catherine. Pass a Hyatt with the usual chain restaurants — the ones that serve $12 burgers. The doors of an indoor Mall with the sign Jardin something beckons a block down. We pass it. Soon, we need a map. I find a hotel that turns out to be “dead-center Montreal.”

We follow directions to Rue St. Denis. But it’s not the Bistro-lined street we remember.

“This isn’t fun,” Mira grumbles.

I wonder why we came.

downward spiral
the sidewalk on our path
closed for construction

A lucky turn and an encounter with a local lead us to Old Montreal. Along another cobblestone street we pass bistros and restaurants—including the recommended Jardin Nelson. A block later, we arrive at Jacques Cartier Place, a location Mira and I remember.

The plaza extends down toward the old port along the St. Lawrence. Restaurants line either side. Performers occupy locations spread apart, each drawing their own crowds. A magician performing near the top of the Plaza. Peruvian musicians play near the bottom.

moving through huddled masses
at Cartier Place

We arrive at our table in the Garden of Jardin Nelson. A Jazz quartet, featuring a petite diva with a Billie Holiday white carnation in her hair, entertains the lunch crowd from an elevated pedestal stage. Large white parasols in the shape of tulip petals shade us from the sun.

I order a rabbit crepe. Mira asks for a seafood crepe, and Frankie, a personal pizza topped with local sausage. As our waiter says, perfect.

I take my first bite. An explosion of succulent flavors engulfs my tongue: Robust, juicy flavor of sautéed rabbit, tart Portobello mushroom and hardy cheese.

Satisfaction, at last!

lunch beneath
a forest of tulips
jazz serenade

We cross Cartier Place and follow a cobblestone street. More bistros and gift shops, offering their siren song of tourist-trap trinkets.

We turn toward the old port. Walking up and down two piers, we can’t find the bench where I “proposed.”

river promenade—
one lone boat against the
St. Lawrence current

A walk skirting Chinatown, and we return to “dead center” — and the way home.

organ music
a flock of pigeons
taking flight

read from the beginning: Pre-Smuggs Insomnia, the Prequel


photograph by Cedric Servay

Image Curve’s Manifesto


Frank J. Tassone

I fell in love with writing ever since I wrote my first short story at the age of 12 and my first poem in high school. My free-verse has appeared in the literary e-zine Pif. My haibun has been published in Cattails, Haibun Today, Contemporary Haibun Online (CHO) and Contemporary Haibun, CHO's annual print anthology. My haiku has been published by the Haiku Foundation. My senryu has been published in Failed Haiku. I regularly perform haibun and other haikai with Rockland Poets. I am honored to be a part of the Image Curve community as a contributing poet. Visit my website to see more of my poetry. Follow me on twitter @fjtassone2 and like my Facebook page American Haijin for updates on my latest work.

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