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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 …

rainy days and mondays (run and find the one who loves me)

The streets are wet. E's red raincoat is short at the wrists. There are stray dogs slogging through the puddles, their fur a grey mess the same color as the sky. She looks up at me, that defeated Monday morning look on her face and I shake my head, telling her to let it go. 

I know she loves the rain.

The lights are out in her school. The guards are sitting in the dark lobby hunched over computer screens. I kiss the top of her head once. The room smells of wet paint and fumes.



On the way home I see a tiny house made of paper hanging from some colored yarn. It is sagging, falling apart from the rain. I wonder if it is for birds, or if some children just left it here and then someone saved it.

I see the faces, the stone expressions sucking on cigarettes, the occasional hard stare like I am a Martian walking among them. The thought comes to me that each one of these people has a home, a kitchen table, a bed, some shoes in a closet, that every single one of these people has hats and jackets and umbrellas, a window to stare out of late at night, a cherished cup, some eggs in the fridge. I think of every single person I pass having dirty clothing to wash, a decision about what to have for breakfast, some coins lost in a couch, bills to pay, a picture that hangs on a wall they have stopped looking at.

A woman sits on a folding chair next to a crosswalk. She is wrapped in a blue plastic bag, her head bowed low over a harmonica. She plays it the way children do - breathing in and out through it, just the same two or three notes. There is no melody, no phrasing, no expression, no pauses. It is more noise than music.

I see her.



Comments

liv said…
"Seeing" is a double edged sword. Sometimes, well mostly, it is a wonderful and lovely ability that too few possess and so it is a blessing. But other times....it is just damn hard. What does one do with all that seeing?
"I see her."
There is so very little that you DON'T see/feel, Marco. Another masterful piece.

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