Jane Armstrong ~ I Implore You

To the riv­er La Varenne run­ning over the rock dam at the bot­tom of my garden

To the tow­er of the 11th-cen­tu­ry church, Notre Dame sur LEau, I see from the win­dow of my third-floor study

To the cloud-fil­tered light of Normandy that inspired Impressionists

To the aro­ma inside the boulangerie

To the taste of Camembert at room temperature 

To the fra­grance of Marius Fabre (Savonnier depuis 1900) savon à lhuile dolive

To the scent of Mariage Frères Marco Polo thé noir

To the porce­lain cup with red flow­ers that holds the fruit-infused black tea

To the trau­ma stones—wartime rub­ble—from which my house was built

To the barn—17th century—that sur­vived the Allied bomb­ing that destroyed the main house to which the barn was called une dépen­dance (out­build­ing)

To the wis­te­ria rav­ish­ing the side of the barn

To the wild black­ber­ry bush­es on the bank of La Varenne

To the wild strawberries

To the hazel­nuts scat­tered in the grass below my hazel­nut tree

To the big-head­ed jackdaws

To the bird with spot­ted wings

To the owls I hear but nev­er see

To the red squir­rel and the albi­no squirrel

To the gin­ger cat mou­s­ing in tall grass

To the heavy, rust­ed buck­et chain of the ancient well

To the bark of the bull­dog across the street

To the sum­mer sun that, obscured by clouds on rainy days, comes out on still-bright nights to raise steam from wet pave­ment and illu­mi­nate tree-leaf rain­drops before dark­ness final­ly falls

To the print of Gustave Caillebottes Paris Street; Rainy Day” in the hallway

To the print of Gustave Caillebottes The Floor Scrapers” in the bedroom

To my beloveds kiss

To my beloveds eyes, his hands

To the pre­cise shade of smoky green wall­paint, Pitcholine, on my first-floor landing

To the vin­tage chan­de­lier hang­ing there, restored by my own hands, when it catch­es the sun­light and kalei­do­scopes the full spec­trum on the ceil­ing for a few sec­onds each morn­ing (Dont blink. Youll miss it)

To this place in France where I live and where my life will end,

I implore you,

Please do not dis­tract me with your beauty.


Jane Armstrong is a long­time friend of and edi­tor for NWW. Some time ago she quit this bru­tal coun­try for the coun­try­side in France, where she is now a fixture.