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I believe in artichokes

Italy did ruin me. After that first trip I came back disgusted by bodega coffee, which now smelled of old socks. Before, it was just fine. I rolled my eyes at red sauce joints, detouring old standbys like a stranger. If eating can be seen as a religious or spiritual experience I had been to the mountain. In time I would return on pilgrimages, always holding the simple pleasures in my thoughts.  An artichoke, methodically fried in good olive oil, with some salt. Black truffles, good butter and fresh pasta twisting around the back of a fork. A very cold and tiny glass of porto bianco sipped in a Genoa bar, with my friend Federico. A man cleaning sardines on a block of wood in the street. A woman selling green figs that she wraps into a newspaper cone. I have thousands of these memories, these artifacts. But I live in Moscow, where there has been an embargo for years now, and there is no population that expects perfect mounds of fresh cheese. They ship powdered palm oil here, that gets …

panthers, crows and sparrows

The river is almost frozen over. Wind whips across the ice each morning as we tiptoe along the uneven sidewalk and make our way to school. E makes small desperate noises, sometimes just stopping until she feels like she can move again. My legs lock up when I am about to fall, hands jumping wildly for balance.
We feel the same.

The man with the accordion is out again playing that same song. I try to remember how many times I have written about his blank stare, the same chipper melody. He is unstoppable. My irritation has waned, and now I welcome the light rumble of his instrument as we make our way through the bright tunnel he plays in. 
His familiar face sits beneath a new hat. 
I wonder if he notices us after years of passing him.
My thoughts run to the day we will leave here, and if I will remember him. This accordion player is paralyzed, like one of Rilke's panthers. The world outside of this place may not exist to him. I know that when I am not here, it becomes an impossible place within a matter of days, a place that cannot be imagined. The snow and filth, these blank faces cannot remain. They become charcoal sketches in an old book. They are never real to me in some way. I am not here, I tell myself. I am not here.

"At mom's house there are crows." E says to me after a long silence. "But at our house there are sparrows."
I nod, showing I am listening.
"I like sparrows." She continues. "They are so sweet."
"Yes they are." I say.
"And crows eat garbage." E says, wrinkling her nose.









Comments

liv said…
And there they are - the sparrows.
She's a little sparrow, so sweet.

Someday it WILL all be like a dream. I hope she only remembers the good parts, then.
I hope you too only remember the good parts, Marco.

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