Running in the woods in white dresses & velvet shoes…58
We really did not see it coming, being that the weather in the village is usually dark and dreary. I was going back home after having bought some flowers and brought some books to read from the library, when it started to hail so hard, the villagers and I ran to the first place we could find for shelter, which for some of us, turned out to be a small cabin at the end of the cobble stone street.
We stepped inside — the woman who hides her smiles with her scarves, Baker’s mother with her comb still in her hand, two burly men and I — to find a small living room with a fire burning. We stood, waiting for the owner of the cabin to question our presence there as we soaked the carpet under our feet, when this woman with a glorious head of long red hair came in, bearing curvy hips that produced short, heavy steps.
“It is berry berry windy and berry berry cold outside Maddeliene!” she said, in a thick Spanish accent. She wore a nose ring on her small nose and a Givenchy ear cuff earring. She did not have an inch of grace in her heavy steps and yet all of us adored her the minute we saw her.
“Oh, I’m sorry, have we met?”
“But of course, no, no Maddeliene. Eduardo tells me everything about you — everything! God bless him Madre Mia that boy talks too much!”
I turned around to see puzzled faces around me and realised that the villagers had never seen this woman in the village before. I wondered whether she had come with the storm as the thunder quivered outside.
“What are you doing there — sit there and here,” she said, while lifting throws off the sofas and chairs and handing them to us so we could sit in front of the fire. Starting with tea and moving on to whisky, the villagers and Muccacina (I never caught her name, but then again, this is how everyone called her the minute they saw her), sang “Singing in the rain” until they were too drunk to remember the lyrics and moved on to classic Christmas songs while Muccacina played her piano.
Admittedly, I wasn’t too much fun. All I could do was tense up my shoulders and hold my cup of tea near my lips, raising apocalyptic questions as the armchair I was sitting on vibrated with the sound of the thunder. There is an unquiet horror when the thunder, the wind and the rain are all performing. At one point, Muccacina stopped her playing and called me out for being a downer.
“You’re not singing Maddeliene, why?
I pointed to the outside with one finger, while holding tightly to my tea with the other four.
“Madre mia Maddeliene, why are you so scarred? It’s a storm, it will pass. Aii, I have worried about so many things, only some of them have happened! Come, come.”
She took my hand and led me to the piano near the others and handed me my whisky, after which she played so hard, and we sang so loud, the thunder was nowhere to be heard.
Story credit: Image via Tumblr.31
I have told you so many stories about my blue velvet-like village darling. I have talked to you about so many things that have happened here and I have told you about the haute couture, about the men and women who have come here; about the gypsy hoarders who passed through these streets and the circus found under the mirrored glass tent.
What I have not told you is the first thing I thought when I first came here. Back then I was worn down, tired from trying to keep up with the time on the clock, weary of the world brimming with shoulds and musts. I remember it was dark, except for the light of the moon; I remember the smell of Baker’s gingerbread beasts and the knowledge that time here was nowhere to be found.
It was then they I said — “I hope, finally, to have a niche where I can safely look upon the world’s horror and beauty*” before I walked, for the first time, on the cobble stone streets of the village.
Story credits: *Quote via Vanity Fair; Image via Vogue Nippon.51
Ode on a Grecian Urn, J. Keats.
I was floating amid water lilies again last night darling.
You see, nothing had worked all day. I had gone and sat on the fire escape of that New York apartment, I had prayed amid bones and visited Algis but I still felt unsettled. I wanted to watch the stars by myself and where else would I have done so but in the darkness of my garden?
I stepped in the body numbing, cold water of the pond. The stars were bright and protruding amid the darkness and the light of the moon lit the creamy lilies moving around me. I could not relax as I was used to doing; I kept struggling to keep my face above water and my floral dress floating up around me unnerved me. I was afraid even the pond would not bear a safe niche when I felt strong hands lifting me above water.
It was him of course, the one I had let go of; the one I had mourned when I went to visit Algis. We did not say anything; I knew he would not be around for long. He held on to me, while I let go and looked up to watch the stars, as his thick beard skimmed the back of my head.
The world fell quiet. The small waves hushed and the water lilies took to one corner of the pond. Only the stars that came from another world, another time, made a sound, as they scorched the sky with their light, while the moon seemed to be moving further away from the village.
He is the only one who can make me forget about the light of the moon.
Story credits: Image via Vivienne B.60
You should have seen us darling, Baker, Butcher, Proust and I; along with Eduardo del Mar, the woman who hides her smiles with her scarves and the rest of the villagers, climbing the wide staircase of the library.
We wore our sheer gowns, us women, with our trails skimming the marbled stairs, and the men in their suits and unbuttoned shirts, listening to the distant violins of the skeletal maestro’s orchestra.
We found the librarian at the top of the steps, in front of two large doors which led to the main hall of the library, nodding to each one of us despite his weak sight and shaking hands with Proust as the latter walked in.
The hall was as it has always been, brimming with books from floor to ceiling, except on this night, the reading lamps on the table were switched off, while projectors placed all over the hall were showing excerpts from the letters of the man we had come to celebrate.
We stood in the middle of the hall as sentences written to John Hamilton Reynolds, Charles Wentworth Dilke, and Fanny Keats; letters to Georgiana Keats and the “sweetest” Fanny Brawne were projected on the shelves, on the large windows and on our couture.
I am a coward. I cannot bear the pain of being happy: ‘tis out of the question: I must admit no thought of it…*
I have asked myself so often why I should be a poet more than other men…
All my thoughts, my unhappiest days and nights, have I find not at all cured me of my love of Beauty, but made it so intense that I am miserable that you are not with me: or rather breathe in that dull sort of patience that cannot be called life…
I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days—three such days with you I would fill with more delight than fifty common years would ever contain…
I feel more and more every day, as my imagination strengthens, that I do not live in this world alone but in a thousand worlds…
Nothing startles me beyond the moment…
I find I cannot exist without Poetry—without eternal Poetry—half the day will not do—the whole of it—I began with a little, but habit has made me a Leviathan…
What the imagination seizes as Beauty must be Truth…
Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact or reason…
You are always new. The last of your kisses was ever the sweetest; the last smile the brightest; the last movement the gracefullest…
We were there to recite the poetry of the immortal youth and I was the first to start. I stood on the velvet carpet while the others sat on wooden chairs.
None of us would need to use a book to recite his poetry. I could see the flower hoarder peaking behind the large door of the main hall; she would only come out for this and nothing else.
Story credits: Image by Clifford Coffin for Dior (1948); *Quotes via The Letters of John Keats.103