Like Driss, I dreamed of opening a place of my own. I thought about it so much I could almost enter it: the Cafe Nerval, a small haven where poets and travelers might find the simplicity of asylum … I imagined threadbare Persian rugs on wide-planked floors, two long wood tables with benches, a few smaller tables, and an oven for baking bread. Every morning I would wipe down the tables with aromatic tea like they do in Chinatown. No music, no menus. Just silence, black coffee, olive oil, fresh mint, brown bread. Photographs adorning the walls: a melancholic portrait of the cafe’s namesake, and a smaller image of the forlorn poet Paul Verlaine in his overcoat, slumped before a glass of absinthe.
- Patti Smith, M Train