Linda Ibbotson







The Paris Sketchbook–



Paris opened as a book under my skin.

‘A Moveable Feast’ Hemingway once said.

There is no war under my skin,

only art that sometimes speaks of war.

In Eglise Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre the first six notes

of Bach’s Marcello ‘Adagio’ chime with Notre Dame.

A note cannot play without the air

and the air was filled with hibiscus.

Paris is a panacea, my alter ego blossoming

as sweet as Spring on Sunday’s stroll

in Jardin du Luxembourg, with Antonia.

Along the Seine, unblemished bathers

in July’s La Plage, promenade next to drowsy

heat of the afternoon right and left bank booksellers

and posters of Le Chat Noir.

Pont Neuf, a synapse, lay between.


I watched the way the light fell

and I fell into myself

and it felt good and it felt strong.

I watched sober shadows from second story windows

at La Palette etched into lithographs

at Musée d’Orsay, in the same room

as Mademoiselle Chanel’s nonchalant eyes,

half sleeping, half remembering

the protagonists at Rue de Seine

more than a generation ago.


I wandered into antiquity, a milieu of veined alleyways

leaning into the bow of  Île Saint-Louis.

I searched for lost time; a la recherché du temps perdu,

with Proust and Jean-Paul Sartre,

unconscious Belle Époque minds unleashed

along with expressos and coq au vin at Café de Flore.


I turned away from the rifled gendarmes and unrest,

opened my book and began to sketch.



From ‘The Paris Sketchbook’ sequence and read by Linda Ibbotson read on Cork Community radio.




The Paris Sketchbook-

The Art of Seeing


There is a place

I sit and sketch the still shade

before the light fades

in and out of restless dusk.


There is a place

where broken shadows rendez-vous with la Bohème,

and Chopin’s Étude in C minor.

Falling as arpeggios,

weightless snow weighed heavily on cold bones of Paris,

impermanence melted white on soundless white

audible only at the edge of silence.


At Place de la Concorde,

Cleopatra’s needle stitches clouds,

an easterly wind severs flesh and pleached limes,

paper thin leaves shudder into chaos,

to bind winter wounds the colour of blood.


I sketch in grey graphite, the colour of stone

feel the chill of a revolution in my bones.

At Notre-Dame

knarled gargoyles gather rain and Gregorian chants,

understand and mis-understand

the things that were, things that are

and l’avenir,  things to come.


It is cold at Père Lachaise as I watch the city of light tremble

and I wonder, would we see more clearly in the dark?


From ‘The Paris Sketchbook’ sequence.




In the Absence of Boundaries-

The Third Movement


A note from the other side of silence

hangs in mid-air blue.

Undefined, intangible, unchartered,

neither lengthening nor shortening

or pulled by gravity’s umbilical chord.

I wonder if the wind will carry it in her wings,

perhaps into another realm?

Is it transcending, tentatively balanced on the sacred,

votive, perhaps coiling around a prayer wheel

or roaming the streets of Manhattan

to dance with Ksenia in various shades of black and white.


It has no place for concealment, no obstacle to circumvent.

Is it an apparition on centre stage with no curator,

a muted tone on a Chagall,

lowering its pitch to a finely tuned line of cerulean blue

or does it linger in an atelier in Antibes

where, ascending from a counterpoint

it improvises with the light?

It does not hide in the mouth of frescoes

limed with cardinal red where it cannot speak of freedom

or in the narrow place where it cannot stretch

and where the light does not enter.


Sometimes, it weighs as heavy as a Caravaggio,

a magnum opus as dark as a requiem’s crown of thorns,

a dying cadence longing to flee from a penitentiary stave

to lightly play between the shadow and shadowless

in your visionary third eye, the eye between eyes

where those who listen, see,

and those who see, listen.



From ‘In the Absence of Boundaries’ sequence, first published in California Quarterly.












Linda Ibbotson is a poet, artist and photographer from the UK, currently residing in Co. Cork, Ireland. A former writer for Musicians Together journal her poetry has been published widely internationally including Levure Litteraire, Enchanting Verses Literary Review, Irish Examiner, Asian Signature, XXI Century World Literature, Douglas Post, California Quarterly, Live Encounters, Eastern World ,Uzbekistan (with her artwork) and forthcoming Fifty Ways to Fly. Her poetry has been read on radio in Ireland, Australia, Venezuela and performed in France by Irish musician and actor Davog Rynne. Her painting ‘Cascade’ featured as the cover of a cd. A selection of her paintings and photographs also published in Fekt, an educational, culture and heritage website.

Linda was invited to read at the Abroad Writers Conference in Lismore Castle and in Butlers Townhouse Dublin, Ireland. She was one of three judges for the Rabindranath Tagore Award International.


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