Elisa Gabbert
& Kathleen Rooney

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

No town is as lonely as a coastal town
where most days you’re only alone with the weather,

and you might think it’s moody, Romantic—
but really, it’s loud radiators and pink

sunrises inevitably grayed by rain,
or some other grim weather, because the weather

is always inevitable, and you fall into a memory
of leisure and toil and glimpses of the moon, pink

as umbrellas, carried across the sky by an unseen
messenger. What’s true is true, whether

or not you believe it, whatever the consequences,
if the sun sets on sailors in red or in pink.

After A Photo By Vivian Maier

Alfred isn’t a frightening man, but he’s often
frightened. Jean has never been on a boat,
never owned a fur coat. When one comes into money,
one picks up nervous habits: leaving
a calling card, a feline appearance.
The first step is accepting that life is about
acceptance, welcoming the irregularities
in the clouds, the waves. It’s important to note
that narrative sensibilities define the distinction
between drama and theater. One hears the gulls
before one sees them. Jean composes a postcard
to her younger self: if you were here,
you wouldn’t know anything about him.


Elisa Gabbert is the author of The Self Unstable (forthcoming from Black Ocean in Fall 2013) and The French Exit(Birds LLC, 2010). Her poetry, prose, and collaborations have appeared widely in publications such as Boston Review, Colorado Review, Conduit, Denver Quarterly, Pleaides, and elsewhere. She is a founding member of the Denver Poets’ Theatre and blogs at http://thefrenchexit.blogspot.com/.

Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press and a founding member of Poems While You Wait, a team of poets and their typewriters who compose poetry on demand. Her most recent book is the novel-in-poemsRobinson Alone, winner of the 2013 Eric Hoffer Award for poetry, and her novel O, Democracy! is forthcoming in Spring 2014.