Between the bed and the window, in that space that smells roses and rien que pour toi, the morning let’s her hair down. She is so close that I can reach her skin with the tip of my fingers.
I know, his book and the fame it brought him. The book in which he made me — the me that he imagined — the main character.
He was fascinated by the purple of my makeup and the yellows of my cobra who used to erect the upper portion of her body to greet him every time he visited.
I do not know what demons he tried to exorcise. In the heat of those summer afternoons, he used to sip his sangria and attempt to find almost religious justifications for what he called my ecstatic existence; an existence populated with the richness and succulence of the Mediterranean literature and void of bullet points.
His acute shyness and his need to overcome the incapacity to love beyond nightly adventures used to ring in my ears like some unhinged marimba lamenting the loss of a pipe.
The dress that I wear in page twenty-seven. That dress and the heart-shaped red stone pierced with a hole for suspension I used to wrap around my neck. I found that stone in a church yard. I was too young. Perhaps an older version of me would have made him a better writer. Do not laugh. You are too handsome when you laugh.
In the end he managed to do something special. He invented the name of a perfume and made me wear it in every page of his book: rien que pour toi.
I hid his book somewhere in the library. Yet, every morning, in the space between the bed and the window, it still smells rien que pour toi.
Excerpt from my new manuscript of love poems and short prose.
I was not going to post today. However, I am humbled beyond words that my poem, If I say I love you, is in the running for 2020 Publication of the Year at Spillwords Press. To everyone who has supported me in my writing journey, my deepest thanks. May your days be filled with love and success. May you be inspired and may life shower you with happiness.
The voting for Spillwords Press annual awards is now open. Congratulations to all nominees. All of them are wonderful writers. They deserve plenty of recognition.
My poem, If I say I love you by Gabriela M, is under the rubric Publication of the Year (Poetic).
If you do not have a Spillwords account, you can vote with your FB or Twitter account. When you click on the poem, a Spillwords window will open. You will be asked to enter your username and your password. Ignore that and click on the FB or Twitter icon to vote.
Update: One of my followers pointed out that there is actually a WP voting option too. You can click on the WP icon, instead of FB or Twitter, and vote with WP if you prefer.
Here is the link where you can vote. Voting is open till January 30.
Last February I was awarded Author of the Year at Spillwords Press. I told my followers one thing that will always be true: my award is as much yours as it is mine.
If you wish to read my 2019 Author of the Year Spillwords interview you can read it here.
If you wish to (re)read my poem, If I say I loveyou, can do it here.
He was a great novelist. He avoided the big juvenile traps: on the one hand, repeatedly writing about one’s childhood and one’s limited experiences, and, on the other hand, confining his characters to slogans such as do good or better days are ahead.
He knew he went against the grain of what was considered acceptable in his country; a country in which the novel frequently used everything from camaraderie to horror, and from war to sex, in order to avoid the birth of a new Emma Bovary. Emma’s sensuality would have scandalized a society in which some, if not most, deified violence and crucified sensual love. Should I mention The Scarlet Letter?
He loved me. In his last note to me he wrote:
“Love and sensuality include divination: a thirst for deciphering the signs inscribed in the sacred area of our subconscious, a craving for knowing what the future holds, and the supplication that providence or god will fulfill our desires.
How much we want that which is not only given to us but that which we create too: Mircea Eliade’s homo religiosus, that alter-ego who lives inside us and conjures the meanings we create in sacred times and spaces.
you cut a piece of my hair it curls between your index finger and your thumb in the distance silhouetted against the snow knotted kerchiefs the dress of a woman who insinuates herself on people’s skin like mold on walls in the little house hidden by oak trees in the unmade bed where every night you sleep alone I listen to the mineral eyes of a saint while between your palms the Little Prince plays with white plumes signs that birds exist the winter buries us deep in the ground dissolved our bodies gestate until the birth of spring when on the top of an unspoken hill you and I will bloom into two trees whose fruit will feed the children of the world
Happy Holidays to all my followers. May your 2021 be fabulous. Love Gabriela
love strikes like the Mistral in Saint-Tropez winds, hallucinations of pianos, decide to howl in D major enigmas move inside the wombs incubations murmur under the phases of the moon bewitched, allegories of love raise odes to exasperated nudes a prophet gazes at a virgin sybil whose liquid eyes foretold our love in gold reflections, lava of our souls, a mirror hangs itself onto the wall in the red room a phoenix rises our bodies drown into the liquid time of the Mediterranean amor, amore, mon amour the splendid flesh of a gestating poem washes our singular and frenzied souls
amore colpisce come il maestrale nei venti di Saint-Tropez, allucinazioni di pianoforti decidono di ululare in re, enigmi maggiori muovono dentro l’intimo: mormorio, incubazioni sotto le fasi della luna stregate allegorie d’amore sollevano ondine a nudi esasperati un profeta guarda una vergine sibilla i cui occhi liquidi predissero il nostro amore nei riflessi dorati, lava delle nostre anime, uno specchio appeso al muro nella stanza rossa una fenice solleva i nostri corpi affogati nel tempo liquido del mediterraneo amor, amore, mon amour la splendida carne di un poema in gestazione lava le nostre anime singolari e frenetiche
My name is Gabriela. Papa used to call me Marie. Nobody understood why. Mama believed that Marie was the secret name of his mother who was an actress. As far as I know my grandmother’s name was Lucrecia, and she was no actress. She was born into a religious family. Her uncle was a bishop. I have no idea how Mama came up with this story about my grandmother being an actress and having a secret name.
I cannot write anymore. If you want me to do it, you will have to lock me in the library. Only there silences become words, and words become soft and puffy like two humongous winter breasts glowing in the last rays of a sweet and sticky sunset.
Yesterday, I got lost in the sacrality of the winter carnival with its colors and aromas of musicality, and its hands of poetry extended to the moon and beyond.
Oh, no, you locked the library door.
I start knotting the thin rosy bodies of the quiet words that make the four thousand volumes that reside in here. An aerial bridge extends over the world. Dressed in a full-moon regalia, I walk on it. Around me birds amalgamate the winds of the North with those of the South. I see stars floating on the seas. Blue meadows wave to me.
I cry. My tears reach the earth, and each and one of them grows into a new poem.
I love how you dress for weddings: the repetitive movements of your fingers when you knot your bow-tie and that splendid nakedness of the white rose on your lapel, a true nuditas virtualis that makes me dream of the birth of a god in the zodiacal sign of Virgo.
I miss the glow of your face in the candlelight, the vibration of the wine glass’ crystal stem between your fingers, the memorable tunes of the waltz coiling around your senses.
It is dark. I lay on the sofa and the smell of pain killers and sedatives dwells in my nostrils. I can hear the noise of the withered leaves coming from outside. It frightens me. The sweetness of the nuditas virtualis fades away. I think of Emma Bovary, the so-called narcissistic self-deluded character, the adulterous woman, the daydreamer, the nuditas criminalis par excellence.
How pathetic and enslaved by time our judgments are. If Emma were a man, she would have had the masculine license to thirst for the feminine. No judgements would have been passed. There is no masculine equivalent of Emma Bovary in literature. Profoundly telling, don’t you think?
Emma committed the mortal sin of having affairs. She killed herself as self-punishment, we are told. How ignorant people who think so are. Turn the page and think of Emma as the woman who pitied the birth of her own daughter. Have you ever stopped to think why she would do that?
Those winds and the frightening noise of the withered leaves.
Where are you?
You do not visit anymore. You forgot your white rose on the head on my sofa. I need to tell you again. I love how you dress for weddings.
My poetry is neither the chronicle of my sufferings nor the chronicle of my loves as many seem to believe. It does not contain the description of my marital status nor that of my accomplishments. It does not record my joys or my passions with the precision of a timeclock. It does not dwell in my sadness. Sadness is the place where I dwell when I write the word sea and I cannot understand its meaning the way Elytis understood it. I was not born in Hellada. I can use that as an excuse for my poetic inadequacies.
My poetry is that which comes from the realm of the unfulfilled. It is the echo of the waves that you can guess but cannot see because they are not born yet. It is the voice of the blood that dries on the feet of the prophets. It is the dream of my cheeks that you will never touch. My poetry is the body of a Sunday that forgot to put walnuts and cinnamon in its baklava. It is the promise of tomorrow.
Three years ago I bought a silver icon at an auction. The icon belonged to the M. family. They used to be one of the most preeminent families on the island of Crete. Hellada was tattooed in my non-Hellenistic soul by the will of my parents, not by mine. You cannot stage a coup against your own baptism when you are four months old.
I was in love in Hellada. So much for “Let’s fall in love in Spain.” Every time the church bells tolled, he, the one who loved me, used to bring me daffodils. One daffodil for each bell toll. When the church bells stopped tolling I had so many daffodils that I could not carry them anymore. I had to let them fall on the ground.
I ran and I took the first ship out of Piraeus.
Until this day he – the one who loves me – still waits for the girl that will keep his daffodils and marry him.
Of course, he does. There is always the promise of tomorrow. There is always my poetry and there is always one more night of passion.
I am grateful to Mushtaq Bala – the Editor-In-Chief of KASHMIR PEN – for inviting me to publish my work in his newspaper.
Purple roots cover all trails that go to the foothills. Veins that the earth pushed to the surface. I smell lavender. Your words grow in the breeze like a dough under the whispers of the moon. For three thousand years, sung by the poets of this land, the naked shoulder of the mountain reigned in stillness. The sky made itself invisible into a wooden box where my grandmother kept her rings: memories of loves that now fit in a small chamber. The sea and the afternoon’s breaths eclipse the taste of your colors. The blue that slipped between the same branches of the old poplar tree stares me in the eyes. Clouds ossify the fight of the earth against the earth. Between my palms the body of a thin yellow candle. I remember walking on a street where children were hungry and had no shoes. I took my shoes off and wiped my tears with the back of palms. Under my eyes the skin became red and rough. I wrote I love you on your left cheek. I threw all the silver coins I had onto the dust of the street. They were meant for the dead. Let them help the living. I remember your hand caressing the silk of my dress. I purge all memories except one that belongs to the future. You and I chanting to the incarnation of love under a tree on the island where I was born. The island where it is always spring and the earth that does not fight against the earth. Did I tell you I was born on an island?
Fight was published together with If Only … Autumn in the 19, 2020 November edition of KASHMIR PEN.