La Vie Ordinaire

By Mark Kraushaar

Featured Image: Kanawha River Valley by Samuel Colman 1888-90

Monsieur LeBrun est un ingénieur chimiste:

on page 8 of our ninth grade French One text

Mr. Brown was just leaving for work

and behind him, always, always, there was Madame

in her pretty print dress and beside her the waving twins

Marcel and Marie—Au revoir, Papa!

I’ll guess the rest:

next he drives to Toulouse or Roubaix

and there’s a big meeting on polymers, or pyrite,

heat flux, or octanes, and after his lunch

he walks to the lab with his good pal François.

One man pours a beaker of blue fluid into a flask

while the other graphs a special equation

or holds a test tube in the light.

Later the two men sigh and say goodnight

and Monsieur LeBrun climbs into his yellow Renault,

takes rue des Gallois to rue Saint-Michel and arrives

back home where with six kisses given, six received

the evening begins.

In fact, each evening starts with those same dozen kisses

for another decade at the end of which on a similar night

he opens his paper, sips his drink, eats, and sits

staring at a pink- and avocado-colored plate

which like a little TV he can neither focus on nor turn from.

C’est vrai, says Madame.

I guess we want to make sense, she says, except,

here’s this whole improbable, bright scene before us,

and we’re peevish and stuck, and then one day

you’re rinsing a cup and it’s like the heart

takes off for Bermuda and you rise right out of your shoes

and think how easy it is, how like a trick of the mind

to simply be happy, and as the Earth turns

into a map there comes a moment it feels

like forgiveness and thanks and when

you want to dive you dive—c’est vrai!

and recover soaring upwards

by thinking it so. I’ve met someone new, she says,

it’s true.


Mark Kraushaar has worked as a pipe welder, wig salesman, English teacher, flute
instructor, and registered nurse. He has new work forthcoming from Alaska Review,
Ploughshares, and The Hudson Review, and his full-length collection, Falling Brick
Kills Local Man, published by the University of Wisconsin Press, won the 2009
Felix Pollak Prize.

Originally published NOR Spring 2010.

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