Escape Artist

Jean Paik Schoenberg

Mona Lisa has disappeared.
The cameras at the Louvre show her tiptoeing in her black robe
along the labyrinthine, shadowy hallways,
kissing Raphael’s cherubs goodbye and waving to the Venus de Milo
only to vanish on the stairway to the Pyramid.

Security is dumbfounded.
Was she upset by the constant flash of bulbs? The groping hands,
fingerprints on her protective coat of Plexiglas?
Some say her departure was inevitable-
the crowds, the noise. The color seemed to drain form her skin.

There have been sightings.
A journalist snapped a photo of her near the Champs-Elysee,
a fresh baguette under her arm, a block of brie in hand.
Others claim to have seen her nibbling on warm crepes of banana and nutella,
laughing out loud on a boat ride along the Seine,
crying behind a Sartre book.

It’s been a month now
and no one has brought her in.
The Parisians believe she will return on her own
after viewing the city nightscape from atop the Eiffel Tower,
sipping an extra dry white wine at sunset, attending a semester at the Sorbonne.

Jean Paik Schoenberg writes poetry and fiction. She has recently completed a collection of short stories and is currently working on a novel. She lives in Los Angeles.