The Resistance was gaining in strength; fugitives from the forced labor draft would soon be taking to the maquis. The Gestapo was growing stronger too, and the Milice were everywhere. It was a time when, out in the countryside, we listened tensely to the barking of dogs in the depths of the night; a time when multi-colored parachutes, laden with weapons and cigarettes, fell from the sky by the light of flares burning in forest clearings or on windswept plateaus; a time of cellars, and the desperate cries of the torture victims, their voices like those of children... The great battle in the darkness had begun.”

(Andre Malraux, Speech, 19 December 1964, when the ashes of Jean Moulin were transferred to the Panthéon)

Each time I climb the wooden staircase…
I call out your artistic alias… Romanin…
And then your code name… Max….
I then await in impatience to witness
the presence of your phantom… Jean Moulin…
in the hope for a secret midnight interview…

Perhaps you might appear:
In the oval dressing mirror?
In the shadows of the clothes rack?
Or in the window with the view
of the wild waves crashing upon the sands
of the Plage de Pentrez?

It was there, through that window with the blue shutters,
that the present occupant of your lover’s home
had seen a woman appear in pure white
then just as suddenly disappear…
And after witnessing such an apparition
she was sure she would soon be sent to the loony bin…
until her friend affirmed:
“She also passed me on the stairs…
Yes, on the stairs…”

I have so many questions, Jean Moulin.
And perhaps, if you are still here with her,
or if you have come to visit,
perhaps you could do me the honor of an interview
upon that creaking staircase…
I wonder:
Did you too walk through the tides
upon this expansive beach of white sands?
Were the minnows likewise kissing your toes
in darting through the undercurrents crystalline?
Could you too fish in the shallow waters
just before the home of your lover
when the tides in all their furor crossed over the beach?
Was it true, in those days, that langoustines
crowded the fishing nets in plenty?
Was it true that sharks at that time
did not harass swimmers so close to shore?

In your artistic alias… Romanin…
you were friends with one of the Poets Maudit,
your Breton friend, Tristan Corbieres
was an official member of Verlaine’s club.
As you drew your caricatures
did the wild waves of the sea haunt your soul…
Vieux phantom evente,
la Mort change de face La mer!
Did you realize that you too would become a poet…
one of the maudit… one of the damned…

Yes, what did you think then, Jean Moulin?
What did you think during those days
at the time when those Dark Messiahs…
Stalin, Il Duce, the Caudillo, Der Fuhrer…
promised that they would put a quick end
to their peoples’ suffering?
Promised that they would put an end
to the nightmares that haunted their peoples' daily lives? even if those Mutant Beasts were the incarnation of nightmares themselves?
What were you thinking
before that Great Battle of Darkness had begun?

When the forces of darkness invaded,
they obliterated the giant Megaliths of the ancient Celts
and built their massive bunkers at Eperlecques
with the hands of forced labor…
They used Île Longue as an anti-aircraft battery,
and fired their V1s and V2s across La Manche…
What were you thinking, Max,
when the Great Battle of Darkness began—
with the barking of dogs?

I await with impatience for my midnight interview.
I call out your artistic alias… Romanin
And then your code name… Max,
I prepare my questions:
After the pure hell of the Inferno you yourself suffered
without ratting on your comrades…
did you ever expect those Mutant Beasts
of Red-Brown-Black to surface once again
from the depths of our nightmares?

I hope for your response
in a clandestine rendezvous.
Will I see you in the mirror?
Near the clothes rack?
In the window with the view
of the moonlit ocean waves?
Or upon the staircase creaking?

What do you think now
that the langoustines hide from human nets?
What do you think now that the black horseshoe bats
drip their spittle over your courtyard?
What do you think now as sharks
harass swimmers in the shoals?
What do you think now as bodies of people—
both soldiers and civilians—
who once called themselves “brothers” and “sisters”
now rot in the muck of rasputitsa
become cannon fodder
for the Double-Headed and Balding Eagles?

We play the jazz of that era, Armstrong and Django,
in the hope that we can evoke your spirit
and that of your lover in white…
Yet even the rooster crowing at daybreak
cannot awaken you….
You who perhaps do not want to be awakened
From your eternal slumber
Unless… it was perhaps… your image
that I saw in the starlit reflection
of the window pane? Perhaps?

Helicopters survey the coastline…
The naval cruiser protects
the top-secrets of the French submarine fleet
Le Triomphant… Le Téméraire…
Le Vigilant… Le Terrible
Descendants of the V1 and V2
take aim in nuclear dissuasion
along Île Longue in the Rade de Brest...

And now a Russian attack submarine
angles and dangles to the surface…
before it is escorted away from the shore…
Why did it reveal its presence?
Was it an “emergency blow”?
Or a show-off display of military prowess?
Was the ship engaging in the electronic eaves-dropping
of internet cables that had once been intended
to bring peace among all peoples
through global communications?
Or was it checking out the coded messaging
of those nuclear submarines
Le Triomphant… Le Téméraire…
Le Vigilant… Le Terrible
as they too now plunge into the ocean depths?

I await, unable to sleep, for answers
to my questions…
Each night I lie in the nightmares
of what was once your bedroom
in that era before your nightmares
became such gruesome realities…
Neither you, nor your lover in white,
appear to respond:
Has yet another Great Battle of Darkness begun?