Climbing the steps up a hill in the humid French weather, I watch out of the corner of my eye as a man slides a needle into his calf, just above the sock. Next to him on the stairs are a thin backpack, a large green rubber band, and a damp napkin stained with blood.

I reach the top and head into the Chagall Museum – something of a modern monolith on this mountain, but full of delicate figures flooded with color. Lost in ballet costumes and biblical scenes bred from pigment.

I think about poverty, about the tenuousness of this city, about how I am an outsider and alone and wearing a large bucket hat and a wide black skirt and I am trudging my way through this small waterside city and thinking too much about something that is allowed to just be beautiful & rough & haunted by gray thunderclouds.


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