Thursday, February 09, 2012

For an appetite of small talk

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The Beautiful City


It took Fellini to tell me I never saw my father dance.
All the days of our lives were less than the days I’ve
given my son. He has seen me dance. So when he writes
some lost memoir of me, it will be about never seeing
me do something else. Perhaps, what he’ll remember is
just not seeing me. In La Città Bella, we sit and dine
together, as families everywhere do. We discuss the day,
the million bits of minutiae that comprise the better of
an hour, over pasta and garlic bread buttered with smiles
the day has worn rich by its living. There might be a
girl named Nicolina, a boy named Marcellino, a veiled
woman with no name at all passing by the open window,
strangers marking the tiny divisions between now and
the next now. The clinking of eloquent silverware making
for an appetite of small talk, persiflage, if you prefer,
the white ceramic plates glinting glossy gas lamps from
across the galaxy. Underbrow, something like worry
wears my underface when I reread the first line of this
poem: I never saw my father dance. There are grottoes
carved out of human hearts. Mine is built this way.
So is my son’s, I know it. If I could, I’d tell him that I
could hold passages of strings in my legs, that my hips
were able to round the tango out of a woman’s feint lilt,
that my blood knew tamboured beats well enough to keep.

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The Beautiful City remembers everything for us. It keeps
us fast to its guttered bosom, bids us come inside as the
sun slips into the last birdcalls, presses the dusk against
our throats like a brazed stiletto, holds the last door open
‘til we’ve scuttled in breathless, our chests heaving with
good fortune. There is weeping rising up from the basement.
Or is it drifting from the attic, we cannot tell. Temples of
tangrammatic flesh make puzzles of what we can’t decipher
from known shapes we are born to make. In this way are we
set outside ourselves from time to time, to be tendered with
rarity and feasts lost to a barren tree of extinct knowledge.

I can’t say what I mean, but you know, you know. Just
open your mouth, your blouse, your prison filled with
all you forsake for happiness like a cigarette fast asleep
in bed. Such are the sentences of sons and fathers to sons
again. In The Beautiful City, it will all matter, all of it.
The air will thicken with cympasia and silence, the drawing
kiss nepenthe sings to the nightingale’s sweet forgetting.

Joseph Gallo
July 8, 2011


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1 Comments:

Blogger Kyle Kimberlin parried...

Yes, we know.

"It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen."

A rich and thoughtful poem, mon ami.

February 18, 2012 8:56 PM  

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