from a vendor outside Notre Dame
you bought a bag with your crumbling French
hulls stripped off your fingers like knotted branches
an open cathedral with a congregation of winged guardians
I began writing "Chestnuts" after reading James Schuyler's poem "Sometimes" which begins "I remember the synagogue at Amsterdam/ a tenderly overcast day." Those staggered lines of this sixteen line poem triggered a memory of chestnuts eaten on a December day in Paris with a traveling companion who died a few years ago. I have tried several recipes that feature chestnuts—in mashed potatoes, with green beans, and with stuffing, but nothing can compare to having them on a cold rainy day in Paris in front of Notre Dame Cathedral. If you cannot go to Paris, reading Schuyler's Collected Poems would be a good second choice.