The Parisian Chimney Sweep Knows the Night

1.

They are ash. They are soot .

They are silhouettes against the Paris sky.

The chimney sweeps of Paris

dirty themselves

into a clean extinction.

Coal, fire and wood are easy to digitalize

in a fireplace generating no warmth,

embers and smoke that blackens brick.

2.

Jean fell off the roof

and was turned into cinders

three days later.

The rest showed up

just to smoke and drop

cigarette ash on his grave.

A blacken tribute

until they sling their brushes

over their shoulders,

head down, walking fast

to sweep the next silo,

knowing eventually

they will be none.

3.

The old pros need

oxygen machines

to help them breathe.

The young face

their extinction

with the indifference

of those who stutter

into the next position.

4.

Their black calling

leaves them unfazed

to the vagaries

of weather

and even death.

5.

This is no longer

the job of orphans

and poor young boys,

although a few

reckless young dusters

will break dance

on a rooftop.

6.

Only the wealthy,

the old and the curators

know they exist.

7.

They do it, because

the greatness of Paris

is viewed from its rooftops,

and that life at best

is a black and white photo.