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Monday, April 18, 2011

Must we choose?

-
April wind sounds like a jet plane outside the window,
so near I can feel the hum on the pane.
I am happy to sit under an afghan
on my heavy gold chair
Sunday afternoon
like an old woman awaiting visitors.

A ladybug alights on my lap, tucks in her wings,
and we are quiet together.

On my tongue are memories of lunch.

What else should occupy
our time on a Sunday afternoon
but the memory of food, and succumbing to sleep
as it drones us under its cloud?
I feel myself traveling through the sky
to a snack bar in Florence.
I have decided not to choose favorites, I say to the ladybug.

What would lime be without avocado? Onion without fried potatoes? Can you imagine basil without tomatoes, or cheese without vino rosso? How pointless to think of pesto without crostini— just Vaudevillian plaid pants dancing from a spoon onto the stage of your tongue, no toast, dry and white, to spread it upon. You open the cupboard for crostini again and again, only to remember with disappointment, Oh yes, pesto was our favorite food, we thought we had to compare and choose, forgetting
that pesto is nothing without the vessel of toast to carry it
farther into our being.
The ladybug is fast asleep,
the roar of wind is gone, blowing somewhere
over the Atlantic on its way to Florence,
the favorite city of someone,
and my memories from there join me as visitors.

Florence —
a physical place apart, a presence in the heart,
never lost,
a stone bridge, a painting, a dome, a statue,
a young groom and his bride carrying calla lilies through a square
toward their new life, that
in their existence alone, rebirth me
— What would Florence be
without this ponte of a stone white sky between us,
an ordinary white wafer carrying the salty tears
from Michelangelo’s pietà, never lost, to my tongue
on a Palm Sunday afternoon?
What would my window be without the sky,
the bridge to everything.




-

60 comments:

Maureen said...

Oh, I like this a lot, Ruth, especially that final wonderful stanza.

Friko said...

Sunday afternoon travel, carried by the sound of wind and the last afterthought of Sunday lunch, not quite dozing but not quite awake either, drifting on the wings of memory here and there, alighting on the most marvellous memory of all.

I hope you will have many such Sunday afternoons, as will I on this side of the big ocean. Perhaps we will both drift towards Florence and meet in the ether.

Bruce Barone said...

I LOVE this!

erin said...

oh my. now you have returned to that elegant arm with the shawl. you've slow movements of the body and the mind, your tongue trained, absolutely everything connected. yes!

xo
erin

Bonnie said...

I try to imagine the soul pleasure of pouring out such sweet musings onto the page - to see them in black and white - to preserve them for your children - to know others will be nourished by their light and lyricism.

A joy to experience, Ruth.

The Solitary Walker said...

What would Italy be without Florence? Or Bologna? Or Siena? Or Arezzo? Or Naples? Or Amalfi? Or Taormina? Still unique and wonderful and breathtakingly beautiful - as infinite riches would still remain. Ah, Italy. So, so special.

Jeanie said...

Ah, pesto and Florence. I nabbed some glorious basil at Horrock's this weekend -- enough to make a fabulous pesto. It had been so very long! We enjoyed it once on chicken and polenta, once on pasta (with nibbles and spoonfuls when no one was looking!)

Pat said...

You have such a gift of words that you knit together....and like a beautiful afghan they warm my body and soul.

Peter said...

The sky … the bridge to everything, if you have the right mind … as you!

What a wonderful Sunday afternoon feeling you express, I guess half way between a siesta real dreaming and day-dreaming!

Barb said...

Your pairings are wonderful - I'm glad you're not playing favorites.

steven said...

ruth i settled into the softness of this writing early on and probably no moreso than when you found a ladybird settled on you. they appear in my house so frequently i have to assume they live and love here. how did you know to write like this? steven

cathyswatercolors said...

Hi Ruth, your poem,an armchair adventure, sounds like a dreamy day to me. The whistling wind has been wonderful to sleep and to daydream to. What better to do on a sunday afternoon indeed. I love cloudy,windy and rainy days. I always tease and say it would be so lovely to live in the rainy pacific northwest. Secretly, i think the rain is the perfect excuse to lounge,dream,read and paint.
Still, i am waiting for some sun in and a bit of warmth in the coming weeks. My back porch is calling me. xoxoxo my friend. CB

Oliag said...

There is so much about this poem that I love Ruth...The first trip my husband and I made to Italy was to Florence and we have such wonderful memories ...and food memories are always the strongest with us:) I love the picture of you sitting in your chair tasting memories and listening to the wind...This poem has been a wonderful "ponte" to my memories...

Miss Jane said...

Yes, the last stanza seals the deal. Loved the ponte/stone
/wafer/tears/tongue/Palm.
And the last couplet . . . sigh.

Shari Sunday said...

May you and the ladybug enjoy a sweet, drowsy afternoon repose.

missing moments said...

Lovely words and how you have arranged them!

who said...

While my state is known for tolerance about what goes on in your own home, here in Oregon if you chose a favorite out of those you mentioned, you would charged with a felony.

deservingly I would add

Ruth said...

Maureen, thank you so much.

Ruth said...

Friko, everything is possible in a daydream. I think I would like to go to the market with you and pick up things for our next lunch, go back to the villa, cook, eat and chat.

Ruth said...

Bruce, thank you for that!

Ruth said...

erin, my Indian shawl, I love it and I'm wearing it out. Some things do keep us together, don't they.

Ruth said...

Bonnie, I thank you for your moments of interplay here, for spending this time with me, thoughtfully.

Ruth said...

Robert, all the places you list besides Florence are unknown to me personally. I need to go back. Time in Italy was much too short when I was studying abroad. One afternoon in Rome! But oh, we did swim and dive off the pier in Brindisi (what were we thinking?). :|

Ruth said...

Jeanie, I need it. Don will grow basketfuls of basil this summer, but I need some now. I need to try polenta one of these days. Your pesto sounds so good, I love it on pasta. Oh man.

Ruth said...

Pat, I am so gratified that my words warm you. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Peter, bonjour. You know the sky of my window is also a pont to your city. And how. But pesto and Paris somehow didn't go together. ;-)

Susan said...

"What would my window be without the sky" is one of the most pensive and perfect lines of poetry I've ever read. I think this has become my new favorite, Ruthie. Indeed, what is pesto without bread?

blueoran said...

Let's not choose ... to be here and there at once in the transport and rapture of the poem. The reverie of near and far, far and near works wonderfully with the setup of sitting cozy in a chair listening to the wind pour distance against the window. And what would Florence be without our going without it? That's how the mind stretches out to enfold the world. Perfectly kissed at the end -- "What would my window be without the sky,/
the bridge to everything." Amen.

OceanoAzul.Sonhos said...

I love Florence! Reading your beautiful poem made me travel back in time and remember.
oa.s

Loring Wirbel said...

The structure is such fun with the aside to the ladybug. Finally saw Florence in 2004, the Ufizzi, the old bridge, what an experience. Thanks for the jolt.

Grandmother said...

Memories join us as visitors… favorite places, Florence, stone ponte, salty tears, lost, tongue… so many sounds to savor. Thanks, Ruth.

Arti said...

April means different things to different people. Thanks for sharing your memories. Florence, that beautiful city that makes me think of Lucy (Helena Bonham Carter) opening the window in A Room With A View. I'd been there years ago, but just for a short visit. After reading your poem, I want to head back and revisit... this time slowly, savoring every sight and sound. And the movie, still one of my faves... esp. the music.

lc said...

I agree with susan, beautiful line. and I like how you needn't choose to be happy where you were or wish to be in Florence. You found a way to do both.
truly lovely Ruth

freefalling said...

The sky is SO a bridge to everywhere, isn't it?
I never thought of that before.
It always amazes me when I see the same full moon on blogs all over the world. Every time it happens, I'm surprised.

Char said...

i've had thoughts about ladybugs too. this is a beautiful write, you always give me much to ponder

Ruth said...

Thanks a bunch, Barb. It's funny how I'm tempted to rank things sometimes. We need it all, together, though we have to choose one thing this moment.

Ruth said...

Steven, I love your comment. We get a lot of the ladybugs, and also box elder beetles. Funny how I shun the latter and don't mind the former so much.

I don't really know how the writing comes, any of it. I try to welcome it as it is and not judge it and compare with others' writing, but that is something I fall into a lot, which is actually where this piece originated: comparing my writing with that of others, and wishing I could write so well and arrestingly. Why do I feel I must rank?

Ruth said...

Cathy, I like the excuse for staying indoors too, something I tend to do too much of, especially if it is chilly and rainy. Yes, after our snow this week, aren't we ready for spring (not summer quite yet, please)? Thank you for your warm comment, as always.

Ruth said...

Oliag, good that this poem sent you to those fond memories of Florence. What a city! I was there long ago, I was 19, and it was too brief. It's one of my dreams to go back, and not only in daydreams.

One of the many things I love about Picturing the Year is your chronicling of food on vacations and trips, as you know. I think I live to eat and spend much time exploring restaurants, cafés, snack bars, etc., when I'm out and about.

Ruth said...

Oh, Miss Jane, thank you so much.

Happy Birthday, late.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Shari. I wish you rest and peace too. (We had snow this week.)

Ruth said...

Thank you and welcome, Missing Moments.

Ruth said...

Dusti, I believe it, having lived there a few months. :-)

Ruth said...

Susie, I so love your enthusiasm, my sweet friend. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Brendan, thank you for saying poetically and precisely what I felt . . . the wind pour distance against the window. And what would Florence be without our going without it? What you do here, and around other blogs, means a great deal to me, the way you bring our posts inside you, chew on them, and release them again in your own beautiful way. Your thoughtful energy is a strong presence in my blogging experience.

Ruth said...

OceanoAzul.Sonhos, it is delightful for me to think about you and others floating back to Florence this week. I wonder if they felt us there too?

Ruth said...

Loring, thanks so much. I had more to the ladybug, and I felt it became too cute. Sometimes less is better. I really wonder if there is a bit of fresh wind in Florence these days as some of us visit in our daydreams.

Ruth said...

Mary, thank you. There is probably overly much in this poem. But that's OK with me.

Ruth said...

Arti, that movie makes me want to go back too. I was too young to really find it and myself in it as I would like to do now. I feel I would need a month, like one of those women of leisure, or their companions, that we read of in books.

Ruth said...

lc, thank you for your kind attention to this poem. It came out of a silly tendency and hours spent comparing my creative expressions with those of others. Why do I feel I must choose, or compare? I really annoy myself sometimes in my perceptions.

Great to see you at A Year with Rilke as well.

Ruth said...

Letty, yes, I feel that too, seeing the moon posted around the world, especially you in Australia and rauf in Chennai.

You and I have sky, and we also have rabbit holes.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Char, I hope you'll share your thoughts at ramblins about ladybugs.

Babs-beetle said...

Beautiful ;)

Vagabonde said...

I know exactly what you mean. My laptop is upstairs in front of the window looking at many pine trees and the sky. It is easy to travel out of the window. When I was in Pisa, Italy, I saw there were trains to Florence, so I took an early one. Once there, walking toward the Piazza del Duomo I saw a young lady from work. We were so surprised and delighted. We went to the market together, had lunch. We were looking at one of those tiny cars and the guys in it offered to give us a tour – we went around a couple of streets. Then we went shopping separately – her for a leather bag and me to the bridge to buy some jewelry. It was a lovely day. I took many pictures with my old camera – I have the slides and need to look at them. Florence – it is art overload for sure. I’d love to go back but there are still so many countries to explore.

Ginnie said...

I totally jumped off your wonderful poem, Ruth, to Dad's casket, just one day before Easter. The oak wood and the pietà....and I cried.

George said...

Unable to sleep at 3:23 a.m., I have discovered your beautiful poem — and, once again, your beautiful heart. Perhaps the poem itself will be my bridge to everywhere, allowing me to return to the bedroom and cross over to the realm of sleep, where I belong at the moment. Thanks for this little, glistening gem!

Ruth said...

Oh thanks, Babs. :-)

Ruth said...

Vagabonde, I can only imagine the joy of meeting up with a friend in Florence by accident. I'm glad those photographic slides were not lost with your other photos.

I picture you making arrangements for your next trip on that laptop by the window, some new place pulling you through the sky.

Ruth said...

Boots, you brought something back that I had forgotten. Oh my. I have had a beautiful reverie about that story this morning. Thank you.

Ruth said...

George, I saw "3:28 AM" and I was alarmed! Don't start following my wake-up hours now.

Thank you for your gracious words. I hope you have a beautiful spring day ahead of you, with plenty of sleep.