Walking into the Gare de l’Est in the 10th arrondissement day’s end
pacing souls back & forth being here going there
as light changed shades folding into Autumn

Trekked past the food bizarre ~ backpack feels heavy
quick side-glance piles of kitschy souvenirs whizz bye
mementos of a grand temps in the City of Light

Tickets schedules Parle vous Francais
Lines shorter for those who roll their “r’s”
Longer if not pushy 

Caught a glimpse of the Man with the Green Valise
Smothered in a long grey faded beige trench coat
Strangled by a too many times wrapped 10 foot muffler
Leaning on a wobbly cane packing an over-stuffed magnificent Green Valise

A walking shadow body boasting of intellectual prowess
A worn out saunter accented his Southern drawl
Years of heavy cognacs drenched an over the pond wet try to drown his Confederate soul
He rolled a fluent ‘tres bien’ French dialect bearing no resemblance to his plantation roots

Years fighting Bloody Corporate Greed on the other side of the pond
Etched deep crevices a furrowed dark lined brow delineating all North-South demarcations “I’ve earned everyone,” he proudly claimed
Smile creases erased
His was a ‘serious’ mask

With fresh scars he told us he was recovering from triple bypass surgery
no health insurance to cover his care
In France this was not alarming!

His heart wounds bore the weight of ‘seeing’ ‘breathing’ and  ‘feeling’ too many bloody injustices delivered at the hands of the American Government 
The French Government had also failed to ease his pain

We negotiated an Ex-Pat French American Mason Dixie Line Union
Souls smiled as we shared the language of a Party coloring his valise

“Only intelligent party there is right now is that there Green Party . . .watered down Democrats is like havin’ a mint julep triple sec’d with caramel food colorin’ . . .”
His declaration echoed off the marble walled station
A tired soul screaming for a truth soapbox exclamation

Light began to fall on another Autumn day
As it grew darker we silently watched him order a Mint Julep
Telling us with a wry grin, ‘for old time’s sake!’ 

Shared addresses yet we knew this was probably
Our first hello and our last good-bye

He helped us secure tickets for a Paris-Florence overnight cabin
Didn’t have to wait in any long lines

The Man with the Green Valise leaned forward on his shaky cane looking deeply into our eyes
muttered some words about our short time on this side
promised to rally with what family he still had on ‘state-side’
promised to ask them to come ‘set a spell and talk story’
all in a promise to settle up what days he did have left

We said good-bye in the autumn of this life in the City of Light
Sharing the same question on our hearts 
Who will be with us when we’re called to go?
None of knows the day when the conductor will say,
“All Aboard, do you have your pass? . . .