Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Dreams

The Italian word for

Faccia, Face.

mper with it.
Add a -ta and the face is complete
ly shrouded.

Faccia-ta, Facade.

Here, some people are coated in
Others, makeup.

made down,
sent away.
Faces hiding.

Firenze is exceptional.
Of all of the places in the world
this must be
the capital of
beautification. Beau-defecation.
A city so smeared with
bullshit, the falsified bleached white
walls seem to powder themselves

It is a comfort
to be
back because,
to be
back is to say that, once,
I was
here. I need that comfort because when I walk here, I
don't feel that
I am.

The man in the cafe whistles in the morning.
I like him.
His hair parted like a split cantaloupe, slicked back, black.
He whistles, in a bleached white coat and
his song into the day. He
his lips and rings for us to

After coffee there is
a church or a
mansion or a
battlefield of statues.

It is beautiful, this white, rose, pale green.

In the morning the Duomo makes me
"Cliche-cliche," cliche Cliche:
When I see the Duomo,
I am happy to be

We enter the church and though
the frescoes are centuries old, we are asked for
their exact meaning.
How are we to know when
this is art? How can one answer exist if
one vastly complex mind created this? Unless,
unless many simple minds created this.

One painting was painted on the ceilings,
to hang over the citizens
in their dreaming, in their restless sleep of
a dream of
a life.

The oligarchy painted

I ran


I ran for the art; the art for
the sake of
the art.

I found

the Edge
of a dream.

You know that place where
asleep beneath a quiet ceiling
the image arrives with
memories and friends and
the colors fade into
blackness as they become
brighter and brighter and brighter with
Certainty and Truth.

And then you wake up.
The Edge, right?

Do not forget. In Florence we wake up
to the Dream.
Frescoed facades.

The Edge was
bright. Like I said.

But mostly, it was sad.

It happened one youthful day when the two of them were
little two-hundred-year-olds. Rascals.
The Center had a dream and
when it woke up, it put on its
royal blue cloak, its
leather boots,
its mascara and sexy leather purse and the Center said to the Edge
"your thoughts are not worthy of my eternal ceiling" and the Edge went
to the edge, and
way out There
it got sad.

When I got there, I could feel:
there was no white powder on the walls.
It was brighter because nothing
no swath of freshly scentless orange stucco
no thick tablecloth or bargaining tent was covering it in muddy white.
The Edge was lathered in Florentine sun. And on the walls
you could feel just what it was thinking.

I guess that
with all that makeup on
Florence doesn't sweat much
Because I sure as hell couldn't find any water fountains.

So I went to the Bridge.

It too is an old bridge
filled with the one Dream.
The Dream is washed into the
green-crusted murkiness of the Arno
the very foundation of
the bridge.
So, Florence sells its dreams on

The Ponte Vecchio. That is why
it is an old bridge. (Everything we know is old, and aged because
everything is alive.

But) Vecchio,
old - that refers to the ONE old thing.

The Dream now hangs around necks and
fourth fingers in
Hollywood, while the people sleep.
I hope the frescoes in the Valley of Los Angeles are pretty
at least.

I am entranced by the ceilings' beauty,
this strange form that power has assumed.
Hierarchical blood
in the guise of
inky rainbows. That is

Tonight, in pursuit of sleep and
in search of dreams,
I walk back.

Others are here.
We hope to dream
more than one
dream tonight.


On the return to Rome

My pan refuses
at its center
to heat itself.

Half of the egg cooks. We look
through the glaze of egg white
The hot walls spin as
nausea sends us searching for the
mildness at the pan's center.
But through this clear-cut window,
we can see where
we are.

You are a vegetarian. Nothing with a face, then.
You eat fish?
What is this "face", you speak of?
Does that chicken you ate have one?
When does a baby become a boy
a chick a chicken?
We are all alive.

Look at my face.
We dream many dreams.

Phone Home - Rome Call Log

Several days in Rome already. Still surprised by how dark and busy Viale di Trastevere is. Around seven in the evening. This road is nothing like Lomas Santa Fe, Solana Beach, at the phone booth there. This is flat, narrowed by hairy-canopied trees. They take out the light. In pools of yellow, people. Some lanterns hung at restaurants, others on walls. In one, two scruffy men and their dogs tread water. Very friendly. Also surprising. The two men call to me at the booth of shattered glass. L'altro! L'altro! Apparently this phone does not work. Hang up the red plastic boomerang, and swing around the broken windows to the booth at its back. Grazie, to them. A smile too. No coins though. The machine takes no coins. Only numbers from a receipt. I dial many. Eventually my mother answers.
What a strange surprise
I am in Trastevere
and Mommy is too

. . . . .

I go back to her. Walk down San Francesco da Ripa. It's been only a few days. Amazing, after this continental trip, here we talk together again. Street's brighter; it's day. The grey is light and cigarette buts and black stains no longer hide from the night. Very clear on the sidewalk. Turn the brick corner, the group of scruffy men are there too. Dogs, no doubt. Right across from the shattered phone booth. We are all friendly still. They do not ask but, I should give money. Should I? Too concentrated. Head toward the booth. Still noisy, though morning. Pick up the red plastic hairband, wiggle my ear into one end and, after a few numeric combinations, there she is again. My pack is with me; sits close on my feet. Hear her voice. Also the ambulance, an ape motor, business man's shiny fourwheelmobile. That's wonderful, Mom. Wow. What a day. Hey, could you talk louder? Troop of motorcycles, racing towards the Ponte Garibaldi. Dad, louder? Yeah, good to hear you too.
This call is hard so -
garbage truck eats the pavement
loudly - later then
The guys pretend not to watch. Like I do with them. Still think they're nice though. Dogs tired.

. . . . .

Tried Viale di Trastevere again but, wandering through alleyways, there was a quiet Piazza. We walk on a broad street to get there. Bakeries passed. Via del Cerdo, Via della Scala. Down many stairs - looks like Atlantis. I, a merman. Swim past more curving walls. No sense of direction, only sense of street. A trash pile on the right. A school suddenly opens out of the wall on the right, children spill through the gates. More twisting, cars on either side, parked. Cars, motorbikes approaching, not parked. I park in between two parked cars; they roll bumpily on. Morning glory-laden arch to the left, of yellow stucco. Turn past and, the Piazza appears. Church on the left. Pink. Banner over the doorway announces an exhibit on the Middle East inside. It is a small but open piazza of the usual steel-colored cobblestone and, in the center, I approach the phone. Stickers leech all over the transparent phonebox. Drunken man sleeps on the church steps, body curled around the sharp edges. There was a restaurant there last night with plastic weave chairs, behind where I stand. It is quiet beneath the leafy overhang now. The morning sky shines grey-blue and, as I dial my familiar set of numbers
bearded sleeper stirs
church steps littered with black clothes
soft awakening
Hi Andre.

. . . . .

On the end of Ponte Garibaldi, caught a bus. Waiting for it there was a sign I didn't understand. I asked what it meant and, Dei Capassi - place name. Final destination, not ours. We kept talking, boarded the bus to Termini and rode past the shop-ridden streets. All familiar, with the curve and crowded height of the buildings. Busy streets; like the alleyways were expanded. The bus was very busy but, we kept talking. At Termini, I headed out to Stella Polare to find ceramics where the mediterranean waves lap on the sand. He to Firenze. But the restoration architect gave me his telephone number. I was in Florence in a later week. It was very tidy there, and there were no water fountains. Wouldn't expect to find a phone either. Everything was brightly lit. Even the natural light shone metallic on the billboards, the sunglasses, the leather jackets, the stylishly restored renaissance antiquities. The street was broad, all square right up to the tops of the walls. On the edge of the wide, shallow sidewalk, there was a phone. It was red, like the shattered booth in the dark Viale in Trastevere. But it had been cleaned. Maintenance costs money.
It ate the coins as
shuffling through clanging pockets
hands scramble for gold.
Credit gone. Call made. Hurry off to the meeting place, across the Ponte Vecchio on the other side of the Arno River. Pio Palace. The Big one. No phones there.

Traveller's Guide: Crossing the Ponte Sisto in Rome, It.


Shortcuts all start
here on the middle of the Sisto.
At either end, the
turn is made.
On the peaked cobblestone squares that
roughly thrust these leather shoes, that
send the morning walker directly forward:
On the crest of this arch
the mind whirs in
The plane flight direct;
the mental soar a daze.
A landing point at the other end sends the walker
off through curves of
alleyways of
the city of
The mind whirs again
as the body bends
as the two try to track
one another among
curving sidestreets and find themselves
somewhere new.

Monumental Structures

The local basilica, House of Modern Law, is a sight
not to see.
The debated sit on the ground.
They weave strings, char cobs, arrange their many wares.
They watch as
every single
that walks by glances and
pretends not to.
This is the silent debate:
share a coin now or
reserve it for later.
Even if that later
never comes.
Which will help more?
The debated sit in patience.


It is common to look over the rail in the night and see
the Tiber River, glimmering there.
In the night time, the lights glimmer
green and red (even though it is summer) and
down below
the Roman ho-down stomps along in Florentine cowboy boots,
music hurrying the pace of the embarrassed American above.
In the night time, it is more common
to look over the edge; it is
less common to see
a reflection,
yet on the expected face below.
Among the floating lights
glimmering on the curves of the waves
the gaze strikes
seeks to draw thick waters to
drink to
absorb to
hold and understand.
All the while the glimmering gaze chases, it chases


Beverages available
with a squeeze of lemon since
Brazilians are included too.
After refreshments,
the apartment filled with
instruments awaits:
guitars, voices
toothpick holders and beaded shakers
a hollowed chest, a palm, two snapping fingers.
If you are smart, you'd best avoid this.
If you are lost already
you'll know
the best way to find the way home
is to wander somewhere that looks different but
smells of your doorstep
and get lost again.

This Is My Excuse For Going Back the Way That I Came (self)

Prompt: Each day in Rome we set out for a new destination, yet even with the immense historic and multicultural vastness of this city, we inevitably cross over our tracks on the way to new places. What do we see that is new? How do we observe places that we have seen before and the ways that we have already seen them? On your visit in Rome, take care to not only get to know parts of the city, and how they connect to one another, but find new routes to the same destination. See what works for the people of the city, what works for the tourists, the new immigrants, younger people, older people, bus riders, versus cinquecento drivers versus walkers. Explore that which you thought you knew.

--- --- ---

I'm not sure of how long of a walk it was. I lost track in the month they gave us to do it.

--- --- ---

It was a tiring night before, because it was awake. Now that I woke to the day, it too was tired. Still, somewhere from the bellows of my stomach I drew a voice, as though a pail from the depths of a dusty old well. The waters of Rome revived me and, in speaking of them, in raising my voice as though it was important and sharing my precious water with the class, I found the day that the rays of sun had brought to the busy intersection of Largo Susana.
After gathering to listen to the words of the waters of Rome, we congregated around the water basins, for a peek, a sip, and we set out together on a pilgrimage into the center: home. However, within two turns down the road and a few handfuls of explanations, the determined mass had scattered into little wandering groups, curving around through the circular cores of the city's trunk.
I was a solitary group, departed from the Via Nazionale and, in my steamy jeans weighed down with soot and sweat, I felt of lighter step. I floated along red and orange walls, side streets stained with the shadows of exhaust and towering walls of coral cracked cement, and I jumped. My white American-made running boots released me and my anchoring jeans from the sidewalk and, for a moment, we drifted to the wall; as feet tapped wall, my tired limbs felt a sudden strength, and a taut spring simultaneously pressed us back toward the horizontal plane. It pressed us back down to the ground and, in our weight and force, we moved toward the earth, as if in mutual agreement with the spring in the air.
I knew then...I had got somewhere. I had been walking a long time, with the group, down the street from the group, floating with toes pressed to the wall next to the group. We had walked out together and now, I would take myself home.

--- --- ---

It was the first day and, we went to the beginning. It may have been a cow pasture once, beneath a river often, a mud quarry for the most part. But in the form we saw it in, it was the beginnings of Rome. This was where lives were judged, where the gods decided the fate of the city, where citizens traded for their daily meals. Here rolled the fresh produce and the spoils of war marched in red and gold.
We set out from the Campo Di Fiori, headed through the Jewish Ghetto past Alexander VII. From there, a short uphill climb took us to the foot of the Campidoglo. Where the shallow, slippery steps once carried horses, we now moved into the presence of Marcus Aurelius, and with his permission passed between the beautifully shell-laden buildings of white columns and pink stucco. As the armored Roma pointed us to the left, and the postcard man tried to slow us up, we continued to descend, out, to the balcony, over, the beginnings of - Rome the City.
The Forum was a ridge of marble peaks and valleys of rubble and dust. I had seen it no more than from far above and from there on the Janiculum hill the Forum was no more than a balancing act of bones and limestone. Now we hovered among it, drawn into the gravity of the grey marbled boulders. We sunk down the steps; the columns towered overhead.

--- --- ---

To see the whole city of Rome all at once: that was surreal.
It happened in the night, fog of flaring red torches pouring smoke northwest overhead, the ranks of heads bobbing and thrusting forward further into the depths of the monumental mass. A motor rumbled by, parting that insomnial sea as a balancing act of drumming dwarves bounced on a seesaw from the truckbed. The golden sparks ceased to fly through the red smoke as the Carnival troop marched off into the blaring haze behind the truck. We wandered along a wide road littered with drunks and drifters, towards a purple glow emanating from the Colosseum.
On our right was a glade of statues on the forum slopes. A path led down through the gloomy blue into the ancient center. We tried to walk in, but the fence kept us to the road. We wandered on into the purple-lit march.

--- --- ---

It all slopes down onto the main causeway: this is the place where the feet of conquering armies must have marched where, pilgrims neared the crest of the scallop shell where, masses of citizens shuffled - each to beg just one small favor. It booms and belches with the new vehicles of Rome. I have nike-made running shoes on, and surely am of lesser purpose. I can feel it in the bagginess of my clothing, my uneven steps, my undirected fatigue. I am a wanderer in excess in this city - not in search of material weight but something, something old that is also thicker than mere cream. The road still shouts from exhaust pipes and car horns.
A spontaneous turn right and, the wide stretch of road is suddenly cut by a twisting alleyway. At the opposite end of the sidestreet, one can see the sunlight as it dips into the greying courtyard, sidling among the cool shade. I go there. Turning around to face the street at the other end, it is quiet. Just a few steps and, this magical garden of gates doors and windows, is suddenly under a peaceful charm.
My eyes relax here and, my feet move on. This is Rome, I am a wanderer and, neighborhoods like this, where old Sicilians and young Trasteverians reside, these are places for me only to look at. The road booms at the sides of my head again as I move back into the causeway.
This is the place where the Tiber turns, where, its brief east-west path becomes unpredictable. I cannot follow the river, so I follow the mob. Their street points to the chariot racer's delight and the savage theatre, the colosseum, and it sweeps me away from the Acqua Felice at my back. We speak of water no more, rather walking along the fenceline, past the yellow fringed vendors of bubbly canned syrup and stale beans. I walk along the fenceline of the Forum, the fenceline that makes a barrier of what was once a city center. And finally, remembering this long journey, I follow the steps in.
This is not the home to emperors, farmers, judges or shepherds any longer. The travelers that arrive here do not seek to reap riches from this center of the world. They are not wanderers. This is the home of the tourists, lost by definition: by the clear sign on their endless receipts of guidebook, map and tour guide purchases. And I, a self-admitting wanderer, lost at my very root and therefore temporarily found, I am free to drift among them.
I do this with a guise of decisiveness. Anyone willing to doubt my certainty by looking at my hairdo and shoes is sure to be dispelled by my dress clothes and assertive pace. I will not be further lost in the labeling of strangers! I know what I am, and so I strive to speak.
Those same stones we covered slowly in the sweat of the sun: today I am baked by the blue heat again. I cross them, pass the great basilica and the ancient senate. The columns loom above, great teeth clenching the forum to the ground, and I gaze up at their soaring vertical grooves. My line of sight bounces smoothly up and down as I head into the arch's noontime shadow.
This is the way that the path curves to the right. This is the way that the glinting black cobblestone squares curve into the foot of the earth-red stairs. This is the way that we climb to the top, two steps at a time, past the Japanese photographer and the English chatting queen. This is the way that I climb, now alone, met at the pinnacle by the familiar twenty-postcards-for-one-euro-man. This is where the two workers in blue shirts dirty the fountain with the laboring dust from their hands. This is where the top is.
With the view from the Campidoglo
I can see so much and know
I can see very little.
All is in the walls
And I descend the steps.

Circles in Squares (10)

Sometimes the city is quiet. On the White Night, on Notte Bianca, on the day where everyone stays awake until the next begins, we did not expect it to be quiet. But Oh, how disappointing Piazza Navona managed to be.
We approached in suspense, ready to wind through crowds, keep our pockets safe, our voices singing with midnight excitement. But when we arrived at the spacious piazza, the laggers gained fuel for their barrage of excuses. Navona's energy amounted to less than a murmur. The wide open space broke the dense population of the night into insignificant clusters, gathered at the edges of the three fountains. It was very quiet, and, I felt sleepable. But I was not ready to sleep. This expanse would not lull me to bed with its shadowed corners, its simultaneous sense of enclosure and dispersal from the three distant fountains. We needed to walk.
Stamina? I ain't heard of it. It was just past ten and we were damn near sprinting to the Pantheon. It's close, Schuyler informed us.
There were two things in the way: bodies, and chains. I chose the chains. On the side aisles of the main walkways, those metals ropes closed off a fifteen meter length of open sidewalk, and the hop into their passageway was worth it to me. Guided by the flexible rails, I would speed down the uncrowded pathways before hopping over the next linked barrier. Then I would wait for a second, let my heart beat against me in frustration at the confusing directions I was giving it, and with others caught up, dive back over a chain.
It really wasn't that close. Schuyler agreed. At the entrance to the Pantheon's piazza, we were frazzled by the strain of the crowd. We were led by a furiously-stepping Christina, black hair waving gracefully back and forth in the still dark sky. The night had not yet struck the hour of push and shove and so we rather wound. With the street opened up a bit we set off through standing circles, diagonally up steps, briskly past those other winders (head on and at our backs) with an inferior pace. And to get to the light, that great gleam emerging from the entrance of the Pantheon, we had to go around the fountain.
There is one fountain in the Pantheon piazza. An obelisk seems to spiral up into the sky from its center. As it points to the moonlit realm, its height seems to direct us further, towards the glorious dome. It was busy outside; it was night and, people did not have lunch destinations or, work to return to from a siesta. They stood there and filled the space, the one space: the space between the fountain, and the doorway. Our line of four twisted through the edge and, funneled into the doorway that seethed with light.
Inside, though, it was day, the lamp-lit oculus directed upward instead. The people stood bewildered, uncomprehending and without direction as they do in the day, as they did outside in the night. And along the walls, along that wondrous interior curve, each monument smiled with the respect of its own small, caring audience.
I was tired of spirit, tired altogether and, it was only the beginning of the night. Naturally, I was drawn to the birds, the ones that stand still; I knew that Rafael could console me.
In that glass box, the light collected softly, away from the brightness, the hustle of the center. I found a quietness unlike the disappointing stillness of the Navona. It was a peaceful movement, between the words, the wings, the body, the architectural piece just above. I wandered slowly, surrounded by enough people to form a wall, and I felt that I was the only one truly there, where my two feet were. The glass held me there with open arms, slowly flowing soft light over my head, as I seemed to lay my head on the stone in gazing at the light-hearted birds. Rafael - I do not know him. But I trust that he laid there and, calmly, gave me his own direction, into the nighttime dome of the Roman city.
A breath. I turned about, head down over the circles and squares lain attentively on the floor. With the top of my head and my feet and, a muffled grumble of 'scusi' I found the laces of the wall of bodies and, squeezed between the threads. As I did so, they wrapped themselves in behind me. Picking my head up a little, I saw over a few other shoulders and heads the other three, waiting. The floor seemed to spill out in a great arch beneath me, gradually sloping to the other side of the hill at which the waiting trio stood. It is a floor of gilded sand, striped sparsely with bold blocks of color. Its own soft color becomes the light, and the circles and squares upon the floor become the walls, as the interior itself reaches up towards the oculus, surrounding all, even the sky. Because the domed effect is so great, even the dark expanse beyond can be captured, and so, all is inside and outside at once. The fresh night air was there, and the hustled heat of the crowd - foreign and familiar. I did not know if I was inside, but we were going back out.
Approaching the three who were anxiously waiting to get back to the other lagging waiters in the Navona, I needed to pause. I took Rafael's breath in me, and felt the roundness of it all. Even the light curved, as it dropped like dew on the heads of the amazed and as it turned to grey green in the coffered ceiling. I felt the dome held me all at once like a safe womb, or tomb, like a welcoming kitchen, like an open prairie lit by the deep night sky. The Pantheon truly was a polytheistic place of worship, because it was created as a whole, as a structure that captures that which enters no matter if they are outside its walls or have just left. Its interior is in its oculus which is in the sky which is in the fountain in the Piazza.
We walked towards the fountain, and into the movement.
It was tiresome to move back to the Navona, but I had Rafael's breath in me. I had learned to slow more, to think of the coming night, and to watch my tiredness. We moved as a group, in our weaving line, through the narrow alleys, narrowed further by the lines of nighttime visitors, and arrived at the rectangular opening that feels of Piazza.
It is from these openings that, the rectangular tunnel of the Roman alleyways becomes a pot, steaming over into the cobblestone plain, a place where the light filters through, past the individual lamps of street-inhabiting restaurants, where the sound becomes lighter, drifting into the openness past the walls. It is another vertical rectangle, but one that thins with an imminent end. And it was from that rectangle that we entered the Navona to the right of the four rivers fountain.
It was still composed of clusters, but they were clusters formed with more stature, more purpose of the night in their spines. Still, some encircled the fountains but, the rectangular form of the Piazza has built on itself, on these columns of visitors, and had taken shape with the depth of night. The light here was a pale blue, hazed by the length of the great cobblestone plateau. There were corners but, these were less visible with the rounded groups of figures making up the floor of the space. And the walls that climbed upwards from this place once a stadium, flew into the sky, away into open above and hectic nearby.
This was a place for waiting, before a climb - such as the determined steps of Vittorio Emanuele, the upright confidence of the Colliseum, the strong sense of direction of the Via del Corso.
We found our own purposeful cluster, waiting, lingering, and headed towards the Roman mass.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pauline (17)

Pauline is not the princess; she is not the queen: her role and the role of her servants goes beyond mere title. What she chooses to do is unopposable (her brother owns the continent) and while her power is identifiable as something massive massive, she herself remains undefined.
She waits for us there, smirking, perky breasts taunting us. She knows that she cannot be labeled, cannot be confined to an emotion, nor a single societal role. She needs not flight, as Apollo and Daphne, so serene is her prowess. Needs not the grimace and strain of David to flew her immense power. And so, her story is told in the stillness. In the light of this single candle, We approach her from behind, in the darkness beyond her grace (freshly carried from the baths in the sturdy arms of her extra-tall and especially exotic African bath servant). The golden light surely laps over the dark grey speckles emitted in shadow from the darker doorway we have entered from.
If we know of her, the featureless backside on that highly fashioned turkish cushion together would be a glare enough to humble us as we approach from the darkness. If she is new, then already her pomposity is a disturbance: we wonder in frustration why she deserves such a glorious position in the Borghese Gallery, reclining there without a myth or wreath to her name. Either way, Pauline elicits an extreme response.
But all of these presumptions as to her character are only confirmed as we round her hair, or her toes, and center in upon her two faces: the blank glower coming from her relaxed yet poignant cheekline and the cocky laughter of the two nipples on her bare chest.
Nothing moves. Though the pillow is soft, soft and enveloping as the whiteness it is made of, it remains still, holding her weight as though a pillar fashioned of marble. Her gown almost begins to flow, but it too is caught in the cold calm of its mistress. Here on the edges of the fabric, intricate detailing attempts a dance to free itself of the frozen nature so present on the rest of the relatively smooth figure. But all is under her control. Nothing will move, no candle, no tapestry, no foolishly soft pillow. No subject - this includes her husband Camillo - will move...until she does. And meanwhile, in the flicker and wave of the liquid-orange flame, Paulina's cool control, her wicked emotions dance like fire over the statue. The tension she creates is the same stone that holds the room still.

Fetch The Wax, Find the Bitters. (4)

From my small piece of cheese, I send my teeth to fetch the wax: find the bitters, the striking! Strike me awake! Wake me in Italy.

--- --- --- ---

In the city of fountains, I twist, dazed between the sheets, my body in need of water.
The light weave between the closed shutters, the fanciful drapes, onto the blankly thick walls, weaves between faded blue-grey -- golden sheen like the inside of a goblet -- faded blue grey of the inside of a stormy sky.
Water. I twist into a sit, rise quickly.
In this lofted residence the winds that move the skies above, that put the liquid light from pouring to sipped, the winds open and close. It slams again, the bathroom door, opens itself, clicks again shut, resounding through the hollow workroom with the snap of wood thrusting metal into bronze.
Water. Slowly I gulp at the deep cup. Water. Gulp, gulp down the words, I read: Water, the waters of Rome. Sitting, twisting, skittering between bathroom bedroom workroom, water. I read: the waters that revived Rome. The fountains that laid pilgrims into love of Rome. I read: the preferences of one aqueduct over another - "Vergine...for boiling vegetables."
I want to taste this. Revive me: Shirt plain, brown-patched white socks, perfectly tanned leather shoes.
Door closes, outside - speckled light, light normal enough for me to walk quickly, speckled and bland enough for me to ignore the peppering. To the park, and they notice me; they look at my eyes, look at my shoes. American - cloven - Italian - shorts - long light hair - leather cloven. They are obviously confused, not sure whether to be in disgust. I look back down as I pass through the park, green-filtered light mixing into the deep, grey cement. I had folded the socks, socks on my still tingling legs, to put on the shoes, to become something different, something unidentifiable. I do not know what those legs are as I look down at them - black shorts, filthy socks, shoes with the gleam of a Florentine cow's backside.
My limp is less now, the air entering me as I round the corner, to the shop where the yellow hair on the purple-red meat hanging on ropes signify it is dry.
Entered in a daze: the daze of the hectic, and the constant daze at the real, unrefined, true-colored quality of the food - edible food - all over these walls.
The two men there smile. One is Roberto, the one wit tired red wrinkles sunken into the eyes of his skinny brown face. He is tired, and occupied. But his partner sends out "Dimmi."
Un Buffalo, latte, Caccionata: it is not hard to decide. The only difficulty is in requesting slightly less, asking him to slice off that hunk of reality, that true flavor, that wakening taste. Now I smell bananas, I am in such confusion. Slice off a smaller piece, so I can pay less, so I can constitute myself more in between these two words, rather than firmly in both. Blue grey - gold, blue grey. The walk a teenager takes down the sidewalk, the age a traveller takes when he leaves home.
Roberto does not forget home. Another 'ciao' says everything, but I ask him, I wonder why his eyes look that way? Why on Saturday did he hurry in madness, the madness of the specialty shop! Was it because Sunday, domenica, the Day of Rest had thrown its labors his sabato way?
Normal, yes, worried with work. But me, how was I? How did I feel?
Triste, my explanation, one settimana left here. I seemed somber. This morning I had walked through quiet, my eyes felt dug in and grey. I had walked with slow and sluggish movement, trying to stumble smoothly home.
And so I got a pinch! This Italian actually pinched me on the cheek. He did it twice, he told me of his beautiful country, told me of my own week remaining, and he gave me a new walk, told me exactly, serenit√°, the quiet peace I should find in this city of life, in this last week before I see my family.
And we left with a ciao.
Was a pinch enough? I wanted espresso. I wanted the tiniest of cups with the most necessity to sip. I wanted spicy serenity, in a little white goblet, golden-brown glow within.
"Come va il giorno?" I asked the barman. And he asked me to repeat it. Did I speak Spanish he wondered afterwards? Si, Si. I released a laugh. I laughed more. He was awake now, and he had been for a long time. His eyes were bright, but still, "Cuando dormi?" "No dormo. Non mai." We laughed, back and forth with each other. We were awake, different, and serene, quietly mixing into each others' dizzy afternoons. The light was a dimmed gold inside, and I stepped out to be greeted by the bright.
At the door, the family leaving tried to understand my words, not my shoes. We all held the door for each other. As it closed, my coins jingled all at once, as though on uniform bell in my right pocket, clanking with the hammer of my thigh. We bounced up the stairs, sharp clear jingles sweeping me up past the shadowy platform on the second floor staircase. I slowed, through the shadows of black, into the dimness of yellow grey, through the turning lock. Metal and wood clink, and the bathroom door reopens. I slowed, mounted the workspace - workspace flooded bright white, tainted with reflections of pink and green, And I hurried into the two pages.