Thursday, July 30, 2015

Lost entry from my Italian trip diary

Back against the wall, eyes staring across the street, staring at the #54 , as if I were trying to memorize the address or the pattern of the iron work above the green door.

No need. My old apartment was at Via dei Serragli, 54.

Really I’m waiting for someone to pass. A short young American girl, in pensiero, looking slightly troubled, walking quickly, all business, coming out of the door.

Or a man with long hair tied into a ponytail at the nape of his neck and with a long stride, making his way down the street.

But those people are gone. They’re now approaching middle age and living in Atlanta. Besides, one of them is the person with her back against the wall, trying to retrace her steps, to figure out how she got there or here (and which is which? Am I here or there?).

I look up the bedroom window, which now has a lovely lace curtain. The door is adorned with a fancier campanile, filled with the names of tenants I don't know. But it’s all more the same than different – thank God.

Friday, July 10, 2015

I Good Mommy, I Good? (Poesia per Leonardo)

A poem for Leo, in honor of his third birthday, and the way his words have thoroughly entered my head and changed the way I hear speech -- forever.


“I good, Mommy? I good?”

Another little scrap of remembered conversation with you-know-who

“I good, Mommy? I good?”

The words follow me, from my house in Atlanta to the airport

To the airplane, to Bennington

To my notebook, and ultimately here,

To this poem

“I good, Mommy? I good?”

There’s a desperation in his voice

And I notice: his voice is a weapon, a weapon to break every bit of hardness in me,

Incisive and plaintive and capable of dispelling any notion of motherhood I might have invented

His voice, his plaintive, little words, his insistence on knowing if he’s a good boy or not
The abrupt change in tone, the turning of the head when I suggested, not so gently, that
He needed to be a good boy to gain this or that privilege

All of it, all of it, is conspiring to dismantle every intention of being tough with him.

I’m forced to say without any equivocation, “Yes, Leo. Leo’s a good boy.”

Oh how I want to equivocate, my own penchant for pettiness leaning ever so decisively toward quibbling

But the person asking the question isn’t the boy who climbs out of his crib during a nap or the boy who says no,I don't want to, or the boy who insists on walking where his mother fears he will fall

No, no the boy who asks is another

The boy who asks “I good, Mommy? I good?” is all of human kindness in one little body.

The boy who asks “I good, Mommy? I good?” is all of human yearning in one little body.

The boy who asks “I good, Mommy? I good?” is a far better person than I am or ever will be

The boy who asks “I good, Mommy? I good?” would have had his heart broken if I said anything other than yes.