Mad Aunt’s Map of Paris

June 9

To make a map of Paris, I would découpage newspaper clippings, strips of an antique atlas, pages torn from books of sonnets, dead letters, menus, expired passports, postage stamps, seed catalogues, spice sachets, triangles of sari silk and dashiki, sepia ephemera, lost buttons, grocery lists, paint chips, upholstery samples, and polaroid pictures. In fact, whatever mad aunts in Paris attics are hoarding in old hatboxes.

On my map, the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont would be a leaf ripped from Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act II, Scene I. The park is a jagged edge of Faerieland whose cliffs pierce the 19th Arrondissement. With its twanging suspension bridge, ivy-draped grottos, and a lake as green as a poisoned apple, the park must be effervescent with sprites and hobgoblins.

Under the bridge, the shadows clot as if hiding a wound—surely symptoms of a troll sulking down there. For my map, he would be snipped from the notebook of Arthur Rackham.

On voluptuous evenings in June, Titania will hold court in the belvedere. Electric with fairies, the cliffs will glitter. Here the map would be trimmed in tulle and feathers and the wings of gypsy moths.

[All Rackham illustrations in this postcard are labeled for reuse. Click the images for links.]


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