One night I walked in a French cemetery
of Verdelais, near Château of Malromé,
there finding an old friend enjoying the same.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec stood composed
among giants in the art graveyard.
Head level with the tombstones,
Van Gogh, Matisse, Monet, Klimt,
yet he towered over them all.
He was the master of belle époque,
a provocateur of compulsion,
a sepia tone blurred by ridicule,
the incessant hammering of handicap.
An artist graded by the brothels,
the laughing sneers of the cabarets.
Each moment of joie de vivre,
captured in the turning of a century,
and the impressions of the Montemarte.
With the sweet scent of passion,
absinthe hung in the midnight mist,
I wondered why this spectral meeting.
He turned, as he did to Count Alphonse,
saying, “I knew you wouldn’t miss the kill.”
Smiling he pulled on his beard,
adjusted his frock and faded into history.
Shocked, dumbfounded, I realized,
I did not tell him how much he is missed.
Copyright: 2009, Donald Harbour