Small hillside town: lavender-
lulled, sunflower-sentried.

Madame Bovary’s passions could have flowered here,
long ago seeded by the troubadours’ songs.

Walking her aspirations up this winding road toward the
Provincial Capital of decorated uniforms, velvet gowns, love;

under Sunday church bells, on her husband’s arm
(below, the river of the slowly flowing hours)

exchanging pleasantries and smiles
with the curé, the mayor and his wife;

walking her heart’s leashed secrets down
this allée of plane trees, her day-dreams

sweet as the cook’s preserves from
last summer’s cherries; followed, through

the hive of ancient alleys (the repetition of
their cobbles like her tarnished days’ ennui) by

stares of black-shawled, pursed-lipped women in
the gaping doorways: past the butcher, and the

fountain, and the hilltop convent (guarded by strait-laced
poplars against this lustful world’s onslaughts)

all the way to the derelict stone barn, crumbling
under the weight of her predecessors’

and successors’ illusions and despairs,
for confidential storage.

Later, in the town’s market, with other tourists, we will admire
elegant embroidery stitched with promises and frayed

desires; finger silverware that could have been her pride,
yellowed linen that could have been her death-bed’s.

And in the evening, in the Medieval town-square
(where once quadrilles were danced)

see many mini-skirted Emmas
in their corseted longings.