the no-degrees of separation or escape. Or times we’ve been borne to. Everyone knows someone
who knew at least one in a city of millions. Open terraces under streetlamps and a fingernail of
moon. Tables of friends. A concert by The Eagles of Death Metal and autumn and blood and no
breath and the young. The rifles and a will to end something. Paris, for lovers—I open my door to
a man I’ve been calling all this week—to fix my door. Hamid, thin as a pencil, flaming as a showgirl.
A face from the projects. A face from the once-upon-colonies. My lock no longer works. These are
days when one thinks of closing doors. He stands in my hall, eyes like tunnels and sewers that bend
under the city. Last Saturday there was a carnival bulging in those tunnels. People vowed to dance
to wear costumes to live unless they die. I wore silk. Rented gowns, and feathers, and masks.
You had to be invited. Steps, underneath our city. I wore red. Who are you, someone whispered in
the dark. I don’t know, is anyone’s reply. I’m so sorry I have not answered you earlier in the week, Madame.
My sister. The baby one. She is—was one of—in the café. She came to the birthday for her lover. Her name was
Djamila. I had photographed candles and flowers left for the murdered in front of that café, the day
after. I remember that name. Djamila, I tell him. His eyes are sewers, tunnels. He cries. I cry. Destiny,
he mumbles so softly I am not sure I have heard. He pulls his satchel of tools into my hall to repair
my door. There is a noise somewhere that is too loud. We are strangers. He has come to fix my
door. Holding one another until it is over. No modifier at all.