See Paris First

I stumbled upon this poem a few years ago by M Truman Cooper called ‘See Paris first’:

Suppose that what you fear
could be trapped,
and held in Paris.
Then you would have
the courage to go
everywhere in the world.
All the directions of the compass
open to you,
except the degrees east or west
of true north
that lead to Paris.
Still, you wouldn’t dare
put your toes
smack dab on the city limit line.
You’re not really willing
to stand on a mountainside
miles away
and watch the Paris lights
come up at night.
Just to be on the safe side
you decide to stay completely
out of France.
But then danger
seems too close
even to those boundaries,
and you feel
the timid part of you
covering the whole globe again.
You need the kind of friend
who learns your secret and says,
“See Paris first.”

I feel this poem summarises what happens when we avoid things, and how avoidance only keeps us calm in the short term, and in the long term everything becomes contaminated by our fears. It also reminds us of the importance of facing ones fears, and how we can also need someone, a friend, therapist, family member to lean over and gently remind us to, “See Paris first”.

Hope that helps.

Illustration by

Check out the weekly podcast through the website, or:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *