This week I listen to five poems by Jean Valentine. This week some things pass.
Where does it go?
The twenty-fifth of January turns out to be the 136th birthday of Virginia Woolf. Over on Facebook, Jeannie starts a thread with a line from The Waves. (I am not one and simple, but complex and many.). Sarah posts another. (I was always going to the bookcase, for another sip of the divine specific.) And me, I’m reminded of how I’ve been wanting, all this time since I first read it, to come back to this:
Style is a very simple matter; it is all rhythm. Once you get that, you can’t use the wrong words. But on the other hand here am I sitting after half the morning, crammed with ideas, and visions, and so on, and can’t dislodge them, for lack of the right rhythm. Now this is very profound, what rhythm is, and goes far deeper than words. A sight, an emotion, creates this wave in the mind, long before it makes words to fit it; and in writing (such is my present belief) one has to recapture this, and set this working (which has nothing apparently to do with words) and then, as it breaks and tumbles in the mind, it makes words to fit it: But no doubt I shall think differently next year.
The twenty-fifth, I realize afterward, is also the first birthday of our life in Florence. What did we do? We didn’t realize at the time, but still it was not too bad. Tartiflette with reblochon brought back from some mightily superior supermarket in Nice. (One cannot think well, etc.) And then, like a second course, A Fish Called Wanda.
The twenty-seventh is the day that Noni died, but the year in which it happened is no longer a number I have at hand. (Memory is the seamstress, etc.)
Some other day this week, we go back to Bevitore. We go back too, to the British Library, where we chat with Mark the librarian—Mark who I first met when I was first here at twenty-one, taking Expressive Cultures in Words with Aldo Scaglione, Medieval and Renaissance Culture with Matteo Magic-and-Witchcraft-and-the-Italian-Inquisition Duni, Masters and Monuments with Kate McCluer, Intensive Elementary Italian with Stefano Niente-Parolacce-Per-Favore Bianchi.
never ate so many stars
I finish a long and difficult letter to someone who should understand me better than he does, if one is to believe all this about blood and water, nature, time, and deoxyribonucleic acid. I try not to expect things.
The effort of becoming.
While we're at the library Mark asks us, Englishly concerned, if we shall be renewing our membership another year. Momentarily horrified at the idea of a world otherwise, we say yes. Yes we shall.
Our second life.
The day after tartiflette, so with a year and a day of Florenceness, Andrew and I go to Rome together, come back together. I didn’t think of it at the time, but coming down the train steps at Santa Maria Novella that evening, already thinking perhaps to cap the night with Camilla or Carlo at Enoteca Bellini (turned out it was Carlo, and a couple who liked our just-walked-in faces enough to tell him, please can we buy them a glass of wine?), I must have been happy.
Blessed are they who remember
that what they now have they once longed for.
[Santo Spirito, Firenze]
[domenica 28 gennaio 2018 ore 14:02:04] [¶]
Here is the truth. I will tell you even though and in fact especially because most women will not. You will fight. Even when on vacation, and even when on vacation in the south of fucking France, you will fight. This is normal. It is not ideal, it is not even good, it is certainly not perfect. But then perfection is not what not normal is about, despite what all those American life coaches would have you believe (and then pay to pursue). So there it is. You will fight.
But in between there will be other things, some beautiful in that big way (like the drive up to Eze from Villefranche) and some in that small way (like buying too many baguettes and then finding a homeless man and giving him a couple), and some not beautiful at all but instead like when there's just enough sugar in your coffee or when your glasses are exactly where you thought they were or the way the kitchen windows fog up when you set the water to boil for pasta.
There will be the sound of the waves coming in on the pebble beach at the Quai des États-Unis and the sound of the waves going out. Luigi the cat with the longest tail in the laundry room and Nala the kitten with the croakiest meow on the Côte d'Azur. There will be socca under the sun at the Marché Cours Saleya, and that new single from Maître Gims. There will be all of this:
On s'était promis d'essayer
On s'est promis des sentiments
Quand tu disais “Oui,” moi, je disais “Non”
Et on s'est laissé tomber
On s'est laissé tomber
There will be things like this (by Joan Miró), whose title—“L'oiseau au plumage rougeâtre annonce l'apparition de la femme éblouissante de beauté”—you will mistakenly ascribe to this (“Le Noeud rouge” by Vassily Kandinsky), but it won't matter, because really it is the title you love more than anything, “The bird with reddish plumage announces the appearance of the woman dazzling with beauty,” or “The Russet-feathered Bird Announces the Apparition of the Dazzlingly Beautiful Woman,” or again in French, “L’Oiseau au plumage rougeâtre annonce l’apparition de la femme éblouissante de beauté,” and so when you get home, you go looking up the names of all these birdworks by Miró:
Femme et oiseaux dans la nuit, Oiseau lunaire; un oiseau aux ailes bleues; La Femme Oiseau Étoile; les oiseaux sont l'union; les oiseaux et la femme; Femme et oiseau; Femme, oiseau, étoile; Femme et oiseau; Tête et oiseau; Personnage et oiseau; Femme et oiseau; l’Oiseau solaire; l’Oiseau lunaire; Femme et oiseau; Oiseau de lune; Personnage et oiseau; Femme et oiseau; Le motif de la femme et de l'oiseau; En catalan, oiseau; Femme, Oiseau, Étoile; Femme, oiseau, étoile; Femme et oiseau à l'aube; Oiseau solaire (bronze); Oiseau lunaire (marbre); La Caresse d'un oiseau; Femme et oiseau; Personnage et oiseau; l'oiseau postal.
And there will be things like this:
In [the] summer of 1951, Matisse went to Paris to see the Notre Dame Cathedral: “The immense crowds, heads as far as one could see, the architecture, the stained-glass windows and at times, the waves of the music of the organ passing over the heads were all most impressive. Upon leaving, I said to myself: Very well! All of this considered, what is my chapel? ... And then I thought: it is a flower. It is only a flower, but it is a flower.”
Those are the things in between.
[Santo Spirito, Firenze]
[mercoledì 09 gennaio 2018 ore 09:02:02] [¶]