Welcome to Annecy, a village as tranquil as its name.
With an abundance of natural beauty paired with an overwhelming share of local history, Annecy stands as the perfect embodiment of French serenity.
The leaves whisper age-old secrets under the shade of the Chapeau de Napoleon mountain as a collection of boats draw arrows across the everchanging hues of Lac d’Annecy. The sun, rising before seven in the morning and setting after eight at night, warms my skin and protects my limbs from the chill of lake-side wind.
Perfect, this push and pull of light and air across my reclined body.
Life in France is easy, though the language can be hard. In one way, it is easier for me than German, as I understand most of what is said to me. But as such, I feel compelled to speak only in French rather than simply ask for English. Thus, I am restricted to the present tense and short-jolted sentences. Mais, c’est la vie.
Even with my restrictions, the language flows easier every day. Annecy is the perfect place for practice, and I am grateful for the opportunity.
I am staying with family friends who have been more than welcoming (the stereotype of french bitterness is certainly false in this case), and it is incredible to get to know the quaint village in the hands of a family that has lived here for over a century.
The words, les mots
balance delicate between my molars.
Sentences running through my head
& dissolving in the drums of my ears.
Yes-ja-oui. je comprend,
mais je ne parle pas bien.
C’est difficile yet enbodied,
like a past-life memory
begging to erupt.
You asked me to speak to you.
These same words falling from my lips
& into yours.
Sultry, you said, the way I say
le pomme. The apple.
The sin that started it all.
Were you the sin that started all of this?
Or was I?
Each day I repent.
Washing and willing my body back
through time. Back,
to when my French was not perfect
& you were nothing but a someday fantasy.
Back to where I can forget
& remember all over again.
Where I can seize the important letters
& keep them.
Where I can realize our last embrace
& leave it.
Where I can teach myself the value of each moment.
Knowing these foreign affairs
have foreign ends,
& in their triumph find us
different as fire and powder.
A kiss we cannot consume,
my body strewn out
& beaten by its hold on sanity.
Head swirling with words
& memories I no longer own.
I know now, no matter what you tell me,
no infinity lasts.
So I’ve taught my mind to collect them,
touching their bumps like braille,
for I can no longer see you.
& in this mourning, I learn
how to curve my lips into a smile for another
& to curl my tongue around what I used to know.
The city is delicate, with ancient stone lining roads built eons before their pavement was first graced by motors. With my gracious hosts, I am led through the small passages of the old village center.
We walk slowly, and this time it feels natural. I don’t mind the pace when the alps surround me, when there is so much new air to breathe, and history to be told.
10 heure, the agreed-upon time to mount the mountain and view the lake from a new angle.
Not too early or too late, the morning sun hung behind sparse clouds, breaking through with biblical rays and gracing us at the precipice of our ascent.
It was only after twenty minutes that I began to sweat, and as they say, when it rains- it pours. Soon my breathing turned to panting and excitement turned to concentration on the rocks and roots forming a natural staircase ahead.
Thankfully, another twenty minutes of this uphill battle brought us to the summit. The grand reprieve of open air and picturesque landscape. A panoramic view of Annecy and its surrounding villages that encircle the magnificent lake of the same name.
The clearing where we found our rest used to be home to a great hotel and restaurant. Patrons would take a boat from the Annecy city center across the lake, where they would mount a cable car to complete the journey to the mountain’s peak.
The building imposed upon the edge of the cliff, boat-like terrace facing the water while windows inside allowed guests to look in every direction.
Unfortunately, 2001 brought about the destruction of this impressive structure. Now the flat-topped peak is home to three benches and a sign signaling the past existence of the hotel. Concrete posts erupt from the earth shallowly, like an echo of what once was.
There, I sat. Closing my eyes and breathing in the fresh, thin air exhaled from the forest around me. I thought about all of the people who must have sat just here, centuries past, looking at the same view.
How many legs and fingers
have crawled up and over this edge?
This green-faced mountain with
tumbling chin veering over its own body.
Beard long, clustered, and wooden,
Swinging and singing with the breeze.
And when it grows too long, the crest
purges its lungs with fire,
Charred ash floating like clouds.
This air is not for you or me,
this thick smoke means go,
But we never listen. We stay,
slicing through skin and bone with serrated edge.
Taking the silent severance of limbs as a sign of progress.
Building and breaking over stony back,
climbing again, where we are doomed to fall.