writer Mavis Gallant rests in a marked grave in Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris. in 2015 it was difficult to locate without knowledge that she resides, temporarily, in her friend’s family crypt, because Mavis died almost penniless. when faced with fragile, failing health and dwindling finances, she stated, unequivocally, “i have chosen to be a writer, i know what it entails.”
she was a difficult woman who lived her life on her own terms. i don’t think she tolerated fools. her needs were simple: daily work, a cup of good espresso, a good meal, a glass of wine, a walk in Luxemberg Gardens. i imagine her careful walk through her neighbourhood, wearing square-heeled low pumps that women of a certain age favour, her step precise and light. through the dogshit-smeared streets of Paris, she walked, observing daily life in the shops and cafes, capturing moments in her memory. for her stories. her white and gray and black stories.
Mavis lived six blocks from where she now rests. i wander the cemetery and take in the grave of Baudelaire, strewn with little scraps of paper and battered flowers, international proclamations of love and adoration. the cold winter rain, a benediction. and new graves with funeral wreathes, flowers dissolving into a coppery mess. above, the arborist clips the tree branches into a straight line. and below, Mavis rests in a marked grave. there are flowers.
who am i?