Letter to Mr. James Baldwin

Paris, France

I got myself a crepe. No trimmings. I thought it would be alright to allow myself that. The crepe
was thinner than I expected and there was not nearly enough sugar. After that, I went to the
Saint Eustache cathedral. Eustace was burned for believing too hard. The cathedral was
burned down twice because it stood for nothing. You once wrote Europeans had killed off
enough artists to know that they are persistent as rain, snow, taxes, or businessmen. Or
churches. I can't remember if I prayed or what I prayed about. I waited until the dark to go
people-watching. It is the only time it is ok to be a tourist. When you came to Paris with $40,
what did you think you were going to spend it on? If I had $40 I would buy a secondhand t-shirt
that said Princeton lacrosse, an umbrella, spam meat, earphones, and deodorant. I would
never buy a book if I could help it. They take you anywhere but home.

Michelle Oppong is a poet based in New York. Her work often focuses on memory,
womanhood, sexuality, and blackness. She enjoys reading postcolonial novels, watching
video essays, and trying new recipes. She received her BA in Creative Writing from
Emory University and currently works in publishing.