Monday, September 17, 2012

A hundred Romes from now

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Dead Boy In Italy

The author of the book I’m reading is beginning to annoy me in the margins. She’s in the country that is an adverb, but also an adjective. She’s restoring a house in Tuscany and her curt and short descriptions are jangly and nervous, frittering through nine hyper-caffeinated things in one paragraph as if she were a bus ride full of expression. This to this to that and that to there and them and those and this again.

This is the way home from frenetic groceries at five separate village shops for pasta and home gardened lettuce, blush-heavy tomatoes, bread and mozzarella di bufalo, sainted glass candles, herbs, and a witchless broom. This is she and her companion driving home through Tuscan dusk hills and coming upon an accident scene in which one small car crashed mightily into another on a blind curve. Youth is impatient except when it comes to the untimely death of an 18-year-old boy from Terontola as she gives him the benedictions of a paired sentence or so, more than she gave to the selecting of vital bathroom hardware and, as I allow my eyes to scan down a paragraph, she’s already buried the boy she describes as upright in the backseat with blood trickling out of his mouth in the empty space between the paragraphs and shoveled hasty paper over his dead black eyes like large olives so she can get home to the next series of Tuscan restoration minutiae this reader cannot seem to cease reading about.

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But the boy, the boy from Terontola who will never see the towel rings affixed to the discolored but salvageable walls, the boy who gives eternity all the bread it will ever need to bake, the boy who in his hurry to write one mattering sentence in his life will never read the half-paragraph she has inked him into, the one his mother might read in translation one day and suddenly gasp at the realization it is her son, struggle in disbelief at the driver who slowed for punctuation and ran over orange accident cones to get dinner at a table al fresco, to swirl wine in glasses she inherited from the ex-pat woman she met who knows everything about Italy, every useful number, every historical attenuation except the boy, she doesn’t know the boy and if she reads the passage she will still never know the boy because not all poet-novelists are romantic sentimentalists like I am, are not given to conjure the best carpenter from the honest mechanic who can recommend a good sabbiatrice and a man who has access to an olive press at a good price with a cousin not far away who will deliver it any day before La Festa del Mare Negro because no one works a day before or after and there are simply some holidays no one stops to mourn a dead boy for, and these timely acquisitions hastening to get home may reappear a hundred novels from now without mention of pedigree or that it sat on the hurried lap of writer as she passed a dead boy, the dead boy of Terontola who will still be dead a hundred Romes from now, so I will stop here and now to break bread over his broken body, spill dry wine on his wet red lips, because the Tuscany I come to visit will still hold him as dear as cut flowers while she is long gone off to shop in the check-out blur of her true home in the overboyed country that is mall-to-mall America.

Joseph Gallo
April 5, 2007

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