Onward

by on October 11, 2009 :: 0 comments

Walking backwards
uphill
towards the cemetery outside
the Italian fishing village I spy on
terraced tomato gardens,
shirts, pants and underwear drying on balconies,
rickety scaffolds braced against sturdy apartment buildings
needy of a well-deserved colorful facelift.

Zigzagging the asphalt road
past a two-hundred year old place of worship,
epiphany strikes
shedding light, revealing the manner of perspective
on my former path
of striding forward
with both eyes open only
to the path of what has been
or should have been
and not the endless possibilities
of what existence can be
…today.

Interrupting the mountain ferals
felines playing catch-me-if-you-can contests
behind the gravestones,
I place a stake of purple bougainvillea
on my ancestor’s white marble marker
one amongst many pioneers of the region
– Basso, Rosasco and Columbo –
legends who ruled the land with nets,
poles and cargo from the sea.

The seaport Arabic clock tower
butted-atop the Gothic church
rings nine times;
five minutes later,
another near the graveyard
repeats time’s unrelenting march forward
reminding me of papa’s age
– eighty-one –
when the ocean took him
before I could say I love you
one last time.

Returning to the small town,
I see
children dressed for the heat
wading in the fountain
sneaking behind parked cars
playing
hide and seek in the town’s square.
Grandparents, parents
seated on stone walls, benches,
gossiping with their hands
telling stories of families
love gained,
love lost.

One hundred flights of stairs later
towards my apartment in the former castle stronghold
I hear Marco Polo!
from the teenagers
on the playground near the train station
and whispers of anticipation
for fireworks,
a village anniversary,
a rave of sensuality,
music and celebration.

Dusk slowly turns night
from my balcony
and I notice
boys and girls
continue their elusive games
while lovers play kiss and tell
behind the train station terminal
unaware, uncaring too,
as the tourists and locals savor
their last licks
of spumoni
and slices of life,
pepperoni, porcini, pesto.

Parents scream out their windows
children plead back for more time,
lovers remain silent in the shadows
whispering between the bed sheets
for something more
than what life offers
tonight.

Looking ahead
down the backward path
I, too, envision a future
that calls me away from the water,
the land, our home,
as do each man, woman, teenager and child
who pray and dream for summer adventures
of a life severed from the past,
backwards in technology,
but not culture, heritage,
or spirit
in their small corner of the universe.

Onward

onward

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