“Formality,” you said, “is not something I’m familiar with.”
I would recall these lines at the very end of Padua 2017, remembering the very first time our eyes met when I became enraptured. After the pleasure of meeting others in the piazza Gasparotto, the hub of the following events, I had to content myself with knowing only your eyes, l’innominata.
I met a woman on Friday night who said this: “When you have known someone, physically, violently, intimately, a part of that person becomes you and never leaves. I know I will love ***** forever, even though we said goodbye four years ago”.
I replied with a similar story and tried to impress her with John Donne: “Letters more than kisses mingle souls”. She looked me straight in the eyes and said she agreed.
Our eyes kept on meeting. She clutched a cold bottle of water in her hands and I drank Venetian bitters. I think of the Saturday afternoon conference, about artistic eruptions, with the three old sages; the elderly academic struggled to open a bottle of water in front of a crowd of students. Every morning of the tour last week in the UK, I drank a bottle of local water in the morning.
You read your poetry through the cobbled streets with pride. At the open mic, you read two poems. One of yours and the other from an Italian writer I cannot now remember; my mind is too filled with Latin writers to remember Italian ones. To quote 3615, I understand them, but I did not understand them.
You spoke with such sincerity of purpose, climbing the mountainside of psychology to an understanding, personal, of a T.S. Eliot poem. I warned that, you might be able to climb the mountain, but scaling down the other side is another trial in and of itself. You just wanted to jump off in a bat suit.
You laughed when you swept me off my feet in a scooter by Galileo’s ivory tower, and symbolism flooded my vision. The painter repetitively capturing the same scene for years – does he notice the excited laughter from the birds? Is April his kindest month? Were we nothing but the invisible sound from a wind chime, seen as a passing movement?
Our eyes kept on meeting. I wanted you to dance to deep house electronic music, escape the wild conversation of outside to cover our ears with harmony and give rhythm to our feet. Earlier I had tried to dance, but my feet just carried me back to you. At that moment, though, you preferred the solitude of poets to the union of dancers. Our time in the sun would come, as I remember wanting to say to you.
We played our game with sweet precision. We laughed when told a joke; we greeted when let in; we parted when obliged. Did I see another Suitor? A claimer to those eyes that made a servant out of this pen, a fellow captive to the loving servitude a Cynthia can create? In which case, I will have to change tactic.
We played at being intellectuals in Paris, even though we were in Padua, scootering our way around those cobbled streets. I held your sides, feeling the soft silk of your shirt rub your skin. You said that everything was chemical nowadays, even the libido. A jolt in the road confirmed this.
We did not yet write our four-hand poem – la più bella poesia è quella che non ho mai scritta. But we did sit down, side by side, at a station piano and improvise for a little moment, and I felt your classical training, you who talk about an unfamiliarity with formality.
Our eyes kept on meeting. We offered our souls in two-minute repartees between poems and walking, walking and poems. Between poems and walking, I discovered a side of writing that was truly social. Between walking and poems, you suddenly became the reality of your own desire. Between walking and poems, we were, between poems and walking, between walking and poems, we were, between poems and walking.